Reeling in the win

Caitlin Holland, Editor-in-chief

Senior Bo Ament said most of his friends don’t really understand the sport he loves. He said they don’t get that bass fishing takes skill and determination, just like other sports.

In a word, it’s intense.

“The competition level is really tough,” he said. “Actually, two of the kids I fished with in my tournament series got full-ride scholarships to college for tournament fishing. I actually beat both of them this year. It’s pretty tough competition, especially in Missouri.”

Ament has been fishing competitively for five years through the Missouri Bass Federation. He said before that point he always enjoyed fishing casually, but everything changed when he learned he could actually compete in it.

“I really, really liked fishing — it was something I did as a hobby until I was about 13,” he said. “But once I realized I could go to nationals and go somewhere with it, that’s when I really actually got into it. It’s something I’ve been committed to, and I plan on trying to go pro.”

Ament’s bass fishing accomplishments include a Missouri state champion title, a top-30 national ranking, a Missouri Angler of the Year award and racking up sponsors who pay for his equipment.

He also hopes to get a scholarship to continue competitive fishing in college at the University of Arkansas next year. Bass fishing at most colleges in the Midwest is a club sport. He said he plans on meeting with the Arkansas fishing team first.

“They really look for if you know what you’re doing with the baits and all that stuff,” he said. “They look at your past experience, like how many tournaments you’ve won and if you have a boat.”

Ament said he got a job and saved up for six months to buy his own boat for $1,300. He said owning a boat and good equipment is really important for a competitive fisherman.

He said the most frustrating aspect of the sport is spending money and putting effort in and often not seeing the benefits of hard work.

“You’ve got to just keep going,” he said. “With fishing, a lot of it’s skill and a lot of it’s luck. Most people say they’d rather be lucky than skilled in fishing because you’ve got to get that one bite. I just keep thinking that, the next tournament I’m in is the one I’m going to win it all.”

Senior Loren Wynn said Ament got him started competitively fishing when he was 15. He said having a friend there to compete against helps add more intensity to the sport.

“It’s always fun when I beat Bo when we go out fishing,” he said. “It seems to happen all the time, but once we get to a tournament I can’t catch anything. When we actually get to a tournament, he catches fish and I don’t.”

Wynn said when the time comes, Ament is always ready to compete.

“He gets really fired up about it,” he said. “You can tell when it’s getting close to a tournament because he shuts down.”

Ament said one of his best fishing experiences was competing at nationals. He flew to Pittsburgh with his dad, stayed in a hotel for free and competed on the Kittanning River in a tournament for a $5,000 scholarship. Unfortunately, the fishing conditions that day were not ideal because it rained three inches the day before, affecting water levels.

“The river rose like eight feet,” he said. “It was like chocolate milk, and super fast. It was really, really hard to fish.”

Ament said his club chapter, Bass Masters of Lee’s Summit, provides a support network and helps him become a better fisherman. He said it also helps because fishermen in the same chapter help the other members by teaching different fishing skills.

“Everyone shares all the different techniques they use,” he said. “We always try to get better and keep practicing — it’s just like any other sport. You have to practice to win.”