April 30, 2018
Bridgeland High School sophomores Aaron Hawkins (left) and Hayden Duncan hold the five fish they caught at the Texas High School BASS Association regional at Toledo Bend Reservoir on April 14, qualifying the two for the state tournament.
April 30, 2018—Bridgeland High School sophomores Aaron Hawkins and Hayden Duncan finished among the top 40 percent of the Texas High School Bass Association (THSBA) regional between the association’s Houston and East divisions, qualifying for the state tournament.
The accomplishment comes a year after the duo saw its season end at regionals.
“We worked hard for this,” Hawkins said. “We went to regionals last year but didn’t make it, so it gives you this exciting feeling to know we made it this far and we’re improving our skills.”
Bridgeland High School sophomores Hayden Duncan (left) and Aaron Hawkins qualified for the Texas High School BASS Association State Tournament, which is set for May 19-20 at Sam Rayburn Reservoir.
Hawkins and Duncan will join 222 other two-person teams at the state competition. The tournament is set for May 19-20 at Sam Rayburn Reservoir, which is roughly 17 miles north of Jasper.
THSBA’s six divisions pair off into three regional competitions. The Houston and East divisions competed at Toledo Bend Reservoir on April 14. The cut-line to qualify for state was determined to be the top 69 of 172 teams, with Hawkins and Duncan finishing 44th with their five-fish total weighing in at 10.55 pounds.
The two caught 15 pounds during their practice but they decided to change strategies with an upcoming cold front rolling through overnight. They went out to deeper water during the competition but soon changed plans again, with the two ultimately catching their five fish in shallow water.
“That day was hard but we still got it done,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins has been around fishing seemingly since birth, while the hobby took with Duncan while fishing the ponds in the Fairfield area. That’s also where the future partners first met.
The passion has grown for both, as it’s normal for the team go out consecutive weekends to a lake or continuously enter tournaments to practice their techniques.
Bridgeland High School math teacher Chandler Pardue is the club’s sponsor and said he’s proud of how the students take a lead in this activity.
“They’re extremely serious about this,” Pardue said. “They would spend entire weekends on the boat. They love it and they do it because they love it.”
During a tournament, teams may be out on the boat for up to eight hours. Each qualifying fish must be at least 14 inches in length.
“Usually, we’re fishing different baits – trying to see what works and what different colors work,” Duncan said. “So if he keeps catching them on a green pumpkin shaky head or something like that, then I might switch up to that color or that bait.”
They hope to carry their momentum to the state tournament. Experience will also be an advantage as Hawkins has fished at Sam Rayburn Reservoir numerous times.
Placing well is the goal but it will also help build interest in the activity at the first-year high school. Bridgeland did have multiple teams participate at the regional tournament, while both Hawkins and Duncan said they’ve talked with other students who want to get involved.
“It’s cool representing your school,” Hawkins said. “It’s cool to start a team, be into it and know it’s going to grow in the future.”