Columbus Christian sophomore Nate Stamper already was hooked on fishing, but it took the right bait to take it to the next level.
After seeing Columbus East graduate Chase Banister, who now fishes for the Indiana University club team, start a Bass Fishing Club high school team, Stamper decided to do the same at Columbus Christian.
Banister’s club grew quickly at East, and even after his departure it is going strong. Stamper said he hopes his club thrives as well.
However, starting the club was not easy.
“It was hard at first finding another student in school that was interested (in fishing),” Stamper said.
Stamper’s luck changed once he had heard Columbus Christian junior Jarrett Noble was starting to pursue fishing as a hobby. It didn’t take long for Stamper, along with Nate’s father and boat captain, Rod Stamper, to recruit Noble to become part of the team.
“I knew Jarrett’s dad (Wayne) for a long time, so once we got Jarrett on board, we started to go out and practice fishing at some lakes here locally,” Rod Stamper said. “I worked on getting those two to mesh together as a team. They are both really competitive and have the same personality.”
The road was just beginning for a club with two members. Jarrett Noble and Nate Stamper had to do several fundraisers to cover the expensive travel costs that came along with competing in fishing competitions.
Eventually, they picked up support from Hoosier Air Transport and NTN Driveshaft that offset the majority of their costs.
Once they got the funding necessary, they fared well. During the state championship last May at Patoka Lake near French Lick, Noble and Stamper placed in 15th out of 34 teams.
During a competition that featured some of the nation’s best high school fishermen, the High School Bass Fishing World finals held at Pickwick Lake in Florence, Alabama, from July 8 to 11, they finished in 26th out 166 teams with a total weight of nine pounds, eight ounces.
Noble admitted feeling nervous during the first day of the national event.
“It was so much bigger being on the national stage,” Noble said. “It added pressure because I wanted to do well and at least catch some fish.”
Noble and Stamper got their maps of the lake and a fish finder together, and set out to show they could fish with the best.
The biggest thing Stamper and Noble learned while out on the lake is that fishing requires a ton of patience.
“It can get very frustrating at times,” Stamper said. “Each and every lake is different so it does take time to figure out what the fish are doing.”
Noble added, “The heat also can get to you. When it is hot and humid and you are just standing there and not catching anything for hours, it can really put you to the test.”
Their weight of nine pounds, eight ounces on the third day of national competition was three pounds shy of making it into top 20 to move on into the final round of the competition. Regardless, Stamper and Noble were pleased with the results during the three days. They would like to compete in it again next summer.
“I had a lot of fun overall,” Noble said. “It was great to get some experience under my belt and maybe we can compete a lot more often in the future.”
“It was a very exciting experience,” Nate Stamper said. “I would like to go again and hopefully do better next year.”
And they have an entire school year to find more club members.