Hundreds of top high school anglers take over the Shoals - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Hundreds of top high school anglers take over the Shoals

(Source: WAFF) (Source: WAFF)
(Source: WAFF) (Source: WAFF)
(Source: WAFF) (Source: WAFF)

Hundreds of young anglers are in the Shoals this week. Thursday was the second day for the eight annual High School National Championship and the High School World Finals Tournament.

This is the first time they've had two tournaments going on at the same time.

McFarland Park reeled in more than 600 competitors from 33 states. It's the biggest turnout for the High School Fishing Tournament yet.

"We have 322 boats this week so we're averaging probably 2,000 plus people in Florence for an entire week," said High School Fishing Tournament director Randy Sullivan.

The top 10 percent of the state's anglers fish eight hours a day trying to catch the heaviest bass in the Tennessee River. The winners can earn thousands in scholarships and other prizes.

"Just trying to get after them and find the big ones, I guess, keep on pushing until we get one," said senior Cole Depuy of St. Cloud, Florida.

Depuy, like many from out of state, bring their entire family. All of the visitors from the tournament filled up five area hotels.

"They've got the whole morning all the way up to 1 o'clock in the afternoon to go do things and explore stuff," said Suzie Shoemaker, manager of sport event sales. "Last year, we had 186 boats, and the economic impact to the immediate area was $973,000."

This year, the number of boats doubled.

"This is a really good area,” Sullivan said. “There is just not a whole lot of places in the country that have all the things that we need for an organization to have an event like this."

The city of Florence has a four year contract to host the event, and this is the third year.

"It truly is a great thing for these kids. It keeps them off the streets/ It keeps them out of trouble. It gives them something to do and it teaches them a lot about responsibility," Sullivan said.

"I would love to come out here and fish again,” Depuy said. “It's really nice."

The high school national champions will be named Friday and the world final champions will be crowned Saturday.

You can watch the final weigh-ins live every day at 1:30 p.m. at this link.

Organizers anticipate to have more than 400 teams next year.

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