Pro-anglers visited students at Devers and Bowley elementary schools on Fort Bragg, May 8, for a morning of fishing education and boat safety.
Students in the third, fourth and fifth grades gathered outside their schools and were greeted by two professional anglers and their 20-foot bass fishing boats. Steve Hice, of Morgantown, North Carolina and Randy Yarnall, of Womelsdorf, Pennsylvania, provided the children with a hands-on experience into the life of a seasoned, touring, professional fisherman.
Yarnall and Hice were just two of the 144 bass fishing professionals who participated in Warriors on the Water, a military appreciation bass fishing tournament honoring the men and women of the armed forces at Jordan Lake, North Carolina, May 10.
“We love to see the children on the boats,” Yarnall said. “Pushing the horn, sitting in the driver’s seat … A lot of these kids haven’t stepped foot on a boat, especially one like this. We enjoy seeing their faces light up when we explain how fast the boat can go (approximately 70 to 80 mph), where the stern and the rudder are, the only two parts touching the water at that speed, and there are no brakes.”
Thrilled by the visit and opportunity, students eagerly climbed atop the bass boats of Hice and Yarnall. They were given instructions relevant to boat safety, precaution on the water, how to cast a line, how to lure a fish and how to be successful as a professional angler.
Yarnall revved the boat engine and called attention to the red lanyard attached to the “kill switch,” in case of an emergency. He pulled a bass from his live well and immersed it in water straight out of Jordan Lake.
“When we are fishing bass in tournaments, I can cover almost 120 miles per day out in the water,” Yarnall said. “The old saying is, ‘only 10 percent of the water has 90 percent of the fish,’ and you have to find that in eight to nine hours. So, you go as fast as you can from point A to point B in that time frame.”
Displaying his fishing pole to a crowd of children, Hice addressed himself as “Mr. Steve,” asking where the students come from and if they have ever been fishing before.
He cast his line to the pavement and demonstrated how to bait the hook with jelly worms to entice intelligent, challenging fish such as bass to the lure.
“I travel around to different lakes, in different areas of the country, to bass fish,” Hice said. “These two navigators up front here, tell me where the fish are, where I am on the lake and how deep the water is. I am allowed five fish on the boat at a time when in a competition.”