Lake Texoma adds High School Bass Championship to its resume

Lynn Burkhead
For the Herald Democrat

In September 1979, only weeks after yours truly found himself living in Denison as a new resident of the area, Lake Texoma hosted the Bassmaster Classic.

While the Classic in the age of President Jimmy Carter was a far cry from the Super Bowl of Bass Fishing event that it is known to be today, even a Classic back then was a huge feather in the angling cap of a lake and region hungry to host championship fishing events.

Over the years since then, Texoma has hosted scores of weekly jackpot tournaments, college events, regional amateur events, and even huge professional tournaments like the 2016 Bassmaster Elite Series BASSfest derby on a rain-swollen lake.

This weekend, the 89,000-acre reservoir that straddles Oklahoma and Texas will host another championship level event, one that could help spawn successful angling careers for one or more of the anglers who will try and catch the largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass that call the big lake home.

That will happen with the hosting of the 2021 Texas High School Bass Fishing Association’s state championship event, a derby that will feature a practice day Friday and two days of competition this weekend as more than 270 teams seek to claim one of the biggest titles in all of high school fishing.

While none of the anglers that will compete here this weekend are household names, that is subject to change. And who knows, maybe a future Classic champ or winner of a Bassmaster Elite Series, FLW, or Major League Fishing event will be on Texoma over the next several days.

This weekend, two high schooler from around the state will show everyone what they’ve learned in their brief angling careers, from how to catch the bass that roam Texoma to how to talk into a microphone at an afternoon weigh-in to how to even be a savvy marketer for a potential sponsor.

But most of all, they will show everyone who shows up at the two daily weigh-ins on Saturday and Sunday at the Denison Dam launch site just how much they enjoy fishing and how they’ve persevered and grown through a pandemic experience that cancelled last year’s state title event on Lake Belton and has changed the world as we know it in many ways.

Except for bass fishing, of course, which remains a constant even in a time period of intense change. By weekend’s end, a pair of teenage anglers will have risen to the top while many others claim scholarship money and prizes as they seek to live out angling dreams, catch five good bass, and prove that they are the best of their angling peers, for one weekend, at least.

There have been many other tournaments on Texoma with bigger spotlights, to be sure. But in the overall scheme of things, the chance to outlast a strong field of anglers, not to mention a health crisis that may define a generation, is worth it for the 500-plus high school anglers showing up at Lake Texoma this weekend.

In their minds, there is a trophy to be won and it might as well be them, even if there are no television cameras watching. Yet, that is.

Truth be told, if you like the sport of competitive bass fishing, wander out to Denison Dam this weekend and check out the young anglers making their names known. While it remains to be seen if any future Classic champs are in the field, this weekend’s bass derby is arguably the biggest one ever held at Texoma.

Come watch a generation of up and coming bass anglers, teenagers who don’t have time to wait and can cast and flip with the best of them already.

You may not know their names now, but by Sunday afternoon and five more big bass hitting the weigh-in scales, there’s a good chance that you might.