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State high school fishing tourney picking up in SD

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The Bass Federation is attempting to kickstart high school fishing in South Dakota and around the nation.

Forrest L. Wood Outdoors, the world's largest tournament-fishing organization, and The Bass Federation have partnered to host the 2014 South Dakota State High School Fishing Championship on June 15 in Mitchell.

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The tournament is in its second year in the state and will take place on Lake Mitchell. It is open to any high school fishing team, which consists of two people. Teams consist of two people, and students can come as an independent team their school doesn't have a fishing club.

TBF National Youth Director Mark Gintert said Wednesday that he's expecting eight to 10 teams to participate in the tournament.

"It takes a lot to get going, but it is growing," he said, adding the organization has been running the state fishing tournaments across the United States for four years. "We had 29 boats the first year in Tennessee. There were 129 boats this year."

In the last four years, four states -- Illinois, Kentucky, New Hampshire and Missouri -- have made fishing a state-sanctioned high school sport. Gintert sees more states sanctioning fishing in the future.

"It's one of the fastest growing high school sports in the country," he said. "It gives the outdoor kids an activity to compete in. You don't have to be 6-foot-4 to do it. You can be 4-foot-6, it doesn't matter. It's one the greatest Title IX sports because there are many boys and girls in the boats."

This year's South Dakota tournament was chosen to be held at Lake Mitchell by Lance Hildebrant.

Hildebrant, South Dakota State Bass Federation President, told TBF about the lake and suggested bringing the tournament to Mitchell.

The anglers will be fishing for species of bass.

Registration, which will take place the morning of the tournament, for anglers and their coach, who will provide the boat they compete in, is online at highschoolfishing.org. Takeoff is at 5:45 a.m. and weigh-in is scheduled for 3 p.m. at the boat ramp on Indian Village Road. High school fishing takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.

The top 10 percent from each state championship advance to a conference championship. The top 10 percent of each conference championship then advance to the High School FIshing Championship, and the national champions will each receive a $5,000 college scholarship to the school of their choice.

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Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.
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