WRA is set on empowering students’ competitive spirits on the field and in the gym. Until recently, we have yet to see a student showcase their drive on the lake or the river. 

Since as long as he’s been able, AJ Spano ‘24 has cultivated a love for fishing. Recently, he joined a competitive group of bass fishermen who travel to tournaments around the country. With them, AJ’s been down to the Ohio River and up to Sandusky to compete in regional bass fishing showcases. 

This weekend, AJ will head to Decatur, Alabama for the Abu Garcia Bassmaster High School Combine. At the three-day event, AJ will have the opportunity to speak with college coaches, compete in a field of 100 high school anglers from around the country and vie for a college scholarship.

It is the biggest competition in which he’s participated. It’s a two-to-three day event, AJ said. The first night is, as he put it, “dress to impress,” the time in which he will speak to college coaches from some of the nation’s biggest collegiate programs. The second day is the competition and the third day will likely be reserved for coaches’ invites. AJ’s hoping to make it to day three. 

On the water, AJ and his opponents will try to catch as many fish as possible in an allotted time, keeping their largest five. The five largest across the tournament are scored. 

Although not the marquee sport of most Division-I colleges and universities, AJ will assure you that there are many programs out there. Just last week he had the opportunity to chat with members of the Ohio State Bass Fishing team at another tournament, where the college and high school divisions competed back-to-back. 

For AJ, this sport provides a relief from the daily stress of being a high school junior. Already, he is grateful for the chance to take time away, get out on the water and cast his line. The tournament, though certainly not stress-free, is the perfect place for aspiring bass masters to come together and share in a passion.

AJ’s hope is to be offered a scholarship to compete at the collegiate level as a bass fisherman, and maybe one day to even contend as a professional, and acquire the title of Bassmaster, himself. 

Until then, he will have to keep improving his craft. “How?” you may ask. He fishes. He reads about fishing, he talks about fishing, and he learns from professionals about when, where, how, and what to fish.  

These tournaments help AJ gain exposure for his talent and passion, which he may not have access to locally. That being said, AJ hopes there may be a bass fishing team here at WRA before his graduation in two years.