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KHSAA State Bass Tournament This Weekend

May 8, 2017 | Casey Northcutt

Some teenagers like the fast pace of a basketball court. Some thrive on the adrenaline and endorphins they find on a cross-country track. But there’s a set of youth who prefer a different kind of competition—one held on lakes in cool, spring weather. These teens excel in knowledge, patience and concentration.

Their sport is catching bass.

And every year, they compete in the Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) Bass Fishing Tournament.

“It provides students another opportunity to go out and represent their school doing something they love,” KHSAA Assistant Commissioner Darren Bilberry says. “It builds community and school spirit.”

Established in 2012, the tournament’s regional events take place in late April. The finals occur in mid-May and are often held on Kentucky Lake. These competitions are fierce and require the kind of skill only acquired through time on the water.

“Long before we added this sport, most of these young men and women had been out there fishing for a long time,” Bilberry says. “And certainly, it requires a lot of patience and understanding of the different sorts of bait and lures they may use and trying to understand the best possible [place] to catch the most fish. A lot of people say there’s a little bit of luck involved from one day to the next.”

A Growing Sport

Participation in this tournament has increased considerably since it started, and students from more than 100 schools across Kentucky pack up their poles and tackle boxes every year to compete. For the regional competitions, each school can enter up to six boats containing up to four students. Bilberry says the regional competitions can involve 400 to 500 boats full of hopeful competitors. But, only the top 16 from each region advance, meaning 64 boats from across the state participate in the championships.

And in the finals, Bilberry says, the competition can get exciting.

“You may have a team that’s in the lead, and then we understand there’s other teams that haven’t checked in to weigh in yet,” he says, adding, “A lot of times, it just comes down to the end of the weigh-in.”

The Winning Boats

The winning team, of course, is the one that collectively catches the largest poundage of fish during the two-day state competition. However, students also want to land the biggest fish overall. In addition to top placement prizes, the KHSAA bestows the “Big Bass Award” upon the competitor who snags … well, the biggest bass.

This year the KHSAA bass fishing state championship hosted by Calvert City, KY, will be held Friday and Saturday, May 12-13 on Kentucky Lake out of Kentucky Dam Marina.

For more information about the KHSAA Bass Fishing Tournament, visit The site lists details about rules and how to enter. The competitions are also open to the public for any fishing enthusiasts who want to experience the anticipation of that final weigh-in.

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