Eastern Wake teens claim state bass title

April 30, 2013 

East Wake students Austin Boyette, left, and Joe Edwards Jr. show off four of their five fish after weighing in for the 2013 Student Angler Federation high school bass fishing state championship.

MARK DOLEJS / DISPATCH STAFF — MARK DOLEJS / Dispatch Staff

Fishing and golf are a lot alike, according to Joe Edwards Sr. One day you’re good. The next day you find out how good you really are.

“It will humble you and fishing is the same way,” said Edwards Sr.

Edwards’ son, Joe Jr., of Knightdale, and teammate, Austin Boyette, of Zebulon, were good Saturday on Kerr Lake. With Edwards Sr. serving as the boat captain, the duo representing East Wake High School claimed the Student Angler Federation high school bass fishing state championship, launched out of Nutbush Park.

Edwards Jr. and Boyette hauled in a five-bass catch of 10 pounds, 10 ounces to take the state title.

“Hey, these boys can fish,” said Edwards Sr. “They proved that today. You put them on the water and they can catch them.”

By winning The Bass Federation event, also affiliated with FLW, the East Wake team qualifies for the southeast regional on Lake Lanier in Gainesville, Ga.

“I’m pretty stoked,” said Edwards Jr., who hopes to start a bass fishing club at Wake Tech, where he will begin classes in the fall.

Boyette, also a senior, is headed to N.C. State and plans to join the 2012 national champion BassPack team.

Boyette and Edwards Jr. favored a bubble gum-colored floating worm and fished close to the Nutbush ramp area. The pair reeled in nine keepers and caught 13 or 14 total fish.

The elder Edwards said his crew prayed that Kerr Lake would be selected to host the event. His son said patience was as much of a key as familiarity with the lake was. He fished in a tournament on Kerr just last week.

“I think it has a lot to do with how slow you fish,” said Edwards Jr. “You have to keep the bait in the water.”

Edwards Jr. and Boyette said the flooded bushes at Kerr make it stand out from other lakes.

“When the water’s up, fish are biting,” said Edwards Jr.

“And the trees will be in the water and you throw up on the trees and you’ll catch one near about every tree,” added Boyette.

From the regional, Boyette and Edwards Jr. have a chance to move on to the national championship and a shot at a $5,000 scholarship.

‘Getting kids out in the water’

The Wilson Beddingfield duo of Tyler Dunn and Brandon Matthews were second to Boyette and Edwards Jr. with a catch of 9 pounds, 5 ounces. They were followed by South Johnston’s Allen Johnson and Ryan Underwood with 9 pounds, 2 ounces.

Teams from Chase High School in Forest City and West Forsyth rounded out the top five.

Weddington High School of Matthews and East Gaston each brought four teams while Matthews Butler and Caldwell Career Center Middle College each had two.

Each participant in Saturday’s championship is eligible to compete in the high school world finals in Arkansas.

The championship field was comprised of 18 boats. That number was up a few from last year’s state championship and more than double that of the 2011 championship.

Edwards Sr. believes the key to helping the high school fishing movement grow is for boat owners to become more involved.

“There’s a lot of kids that love to fish and pond fish, but they don’t have a dad or uncle or anybody that’s got a big boat to get them out on the lake,” said Edwards Sr.

“We’re really looking forward to trying to build high school fishing in the state of North Carolina,” added Mark Gintert, national youth director for The Bass Federation. “We’re about getting kids out in the water and promoting education through fishing.”

Gintert says bass fishing is one of the fastest growing high school sports in the country. And TBF will be back at Kerr Lake again soon.

TBF signed a two-year contract with the Vance County Tourism Department, meaning the state championship will return to Kerr in 2014.

“I’m looking forward to coming back next year,” said Gintert. “This Nutbush Park facility is as good as it gets. I travel all over the country and do these events. This is as nice as any place I go. I’m tickled to death to be here.”

Editor’s note: This story is reprinted with permission from The Daily Dispatch in Henderson.

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