Under a clear blue sky, Carson Farmer and Joseph Tatlock stood in a boat on Brookville Lake with fishing poles in their hands.
After eight hours, the two members of the Crothersville Fishing Club reeled in 5 pounds, 8 ounces worth of fish, placing them 15th out of 33 duos earlier this month in the Indiana High School Fishing State Championship.
Next week, Tatlock and his younger brother, Taylor Tatlock, will pair up for the High School Fishing World Finals on Pickwick Lake in Alabama. It starts Tuesday and runs through July 1.
Story continues below gallery
That will mark the second year in a row for Joseph to compete on the big stage, as he paired up with Dillon Maschino last year.
“The 2016 world finals was pretty cool. It is the biggest tournament I have ever been in, just shy of 200 high school teams,” said Joseph, a junior at Crothersville High School. “It took a long time to find the fish last time, but this go-around, we have a pretty good idea of what to do.”
Taylor, a Crothersville sophomore, said he watched last year’s world finals via a live broadcast online.
“It was fun watching my brother get up there and represent the school,” he said.
This time, he will be there in person.
“It’s a little nerve-racking, but I will get ‘er done,” Taylor said.
The world finals coincides with the national tournament this year. Those placing high in their state competition will compete in the national contest, while any Student Angler Federation member can enter the world competition.
SAF events are open to seventh- through 12th-graders, but the primary fisherman has to be a high-schooler.
Fishing League Worldwide offers the tournaments free to students. They just have to pay for travel expenses.
Nick Tatlock, one of the Crothersville Fishing Club sponsors and the boat captain at tournaments, said it takes about $1,000 to cover expenses. The students conduct fundraisers and ask for sponsors throughout the year to help with that cost.
The club started at Crothersville in the 2015-16 school year after Joseph and his father talked to school officials. They just needed at least six members and wound having eight sign up.
“I wanted to start the fishing club because our school doesn’t have very many options on clubs or sports, and starting a club through the SAF seemed like something a lot of kids would be interested in,” Joseph said.
In 2016-17, there were 15 students involved in the club.
Farmer, a sophomore, has been a part of the club both years.
“I have always loved to fish, especially bass fishing, so to be able to have the opportunity to join a club where I can compete against other high school anglers was a great opportunity,” he said.
While Nick Tatlock and Kathie Rose serve as advisers, the students run the club by scheduling meetings, fundraisers and tournaments.
The fundraisers have included teaming with White Creek Farms of Indiana LLC in Cortland to set up a trout pond during the town park board’s May Funfest and the Crothersville Red, White & Blue Festival.
That gave members a chance to teach kids how to fish and gain exposure for the club.
“It gives them experience running that kind of thing,” Nick said. “It teaches them responsibility.”
Since the club only has a handful of boats, members have participated in local competitions at Tri-County Conservation Club in Crothersville and a few times at Lake Iola in Scottsburg.
Taylor said he likes those competitions.
“Mainly, it’s fishing with your friends, people you know that you don’t get to see because they live out in the country, so you get to meet up with them and have fun,” he said.
The two members with the highest weight of fish throughout the season are given the opportunity to compete in the state competition.
Serving as boat captain, Nick has gotten to experience the event firsthand.
“It’s a bigger lake. It’s more competition. It’s really just a great experience and opportunity for the kids,” he said. “You get to see them do it and just be a part of it. It’s a good time. They had a good time, and they made new friends.”
Joseph and Carson went up to Brookville Lake to practice the day before the competition.
“I had a great time with Joe at the state tournament. We have two different fishing styles, so we make a good team. The two different styles helped us catch more fish,” Carson said.
“Carson is a great fisherman,” Joseph said. “There were times that he helped pull my weight, and I did the same for him at times. He fishes a little bit differently than me. That’s why we make a great team. We are getting better with every tournament we compete in. We learn something new every trip out.”
Carson said the team’s success over the past two years has helped the club grow, and he hopes more students become involved.
“We need to keep offering the club because it is a great way to get more people in the sport,” he said. “Some kids have never picked up a fishing pole before, and the more experienced anglers helped them and they had a great time. I plan to keep fishing the tournaments and to get our club name out in the community more to help get new members.”
Nick said the club has drawn kids who are involved in other sports, but some only are interested in fishing or being outdoors.
“We’ve had kids sign up for the club that don’t do it for the competition side. They just enjoy fishing,” he said. “Some of them have never held a fishing pole in their life when they come out, and we’ll find them a fishing pole, put them in a boat and let them catch fish.”
Taylor said he expects the club to continue at the school.
“I hope it grows and continues even when I’m out of school,” he said. “It gives kids that don’t like doing other sports and like being outdoors a chance to try something and represent the town and the school.”
For information about the Crothersville Fishing Club, search for Crothersville Fishing on Facebook.
For information about the Student Angler Federation, visit highschoolfishing.org.