Cody Kemp of Hot Springs has a sobering perspective on high school tournament bass fishing. Kemp is the newest owner of the Mr. Bass of Arkansas Pro-Am circuit. It is one of the most storied local bass circuits in existence, and was considered a breeding ground for champions in the 1970s and 80s. Back then it was the state’s largest and most influential bass fishing circuit. If you could be competitive in Mr. Bass of Arkansas, you could compete nationally, and many of its alumni did.
There’s a lot more competition now, and the sheer number of tournaments fragments the available pool of anglers. Each circuit has to be creative to attract the best and most reputable competitors. A growing stream of talented and experienced high school anglers might could be a an inexhaustible pipeline of talent for tournament organizers. Ultimately, perhaps, but right now high school fishing is in a precarious spot, Kemp said.
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