Marty Robinson of South Carolina and Todd Faircloth of Texas are veteran pro anglers competing on the MLF® tour. Additionally, they both have sons that compete at the high school level in a competitive sport that has exploded with growth.
Thousands of high school students compete in events from coast to coast in local, state, and national tournaments. Faircloth’s sons Harrison, 12, and Hudson, 14 compete in the Southeast Texas High School Fishing Association (SETX) events for Jasper High School located in Jasper, Texas. Robinson’s sons Marshall, 15, and Mitchell, 13, compete in the Palmetto Boat Center (PBC) High School Trail, and Bassmaster® High School, which includes a junior division. The Robinsons compete for the Byrnes High School Rebels in Spartanburg, S.C.
"They would rather go fishing than anything else teenage boys would do," said Marty. "e;After school, they both come in through the front door and head straight for the back door."
The Robinsons are grounded by bass fishing and in their choice of boats. Marty, a Skeeter Pro, bought his sons a Skeeter to use in their tournaments. The family acquired an SX Series boat and repowered the rig with a Yamaha VF90 four-stroke outboard. Harrison and Hudson compete from their dad’s Skeeter FX20 when he is not on the tour.
"Harrison will begin competing next year and the urge to do it came from me and his older brother," said Faircloth.
Faircloth and Robinson have had to move their trophies aside to make room on the mantel for the awards claimed by their sons.
Hudson has placed in the money in seven of nine events fished. For the 2017-18 season, his points ranked him 12th in the angler of the year out of 600 teams. He also caught a largemouth weighing 7.58 pounds, the third biggest of the season.
Marshall double-qualified for the 2018 Bassmaster® High School National Championship, after winning a regional qualifier on Lake Hartwell, his home lake in South Carolina. He also qualified with top 10 points fishing in the PBC trail. Mitchell was runner-up in the 2018 Bassmaster® High School Junior Championship. Marshall has qualified again for the 2019 championship.
The atmosphere at high school championships across the leagues is a cross between a college football tailgate party and a Saturday afternoon youth athletic competition. High school logos adorn popup tents manned by parents wearing team emblems. They grill food for hungry teenagers returning from a long day on the lake. Parents cheer for their children and everyone else. Undeniably the festive environment is like none other in competitive bass fishing.
Today, the B.A.S.S.® High School Nation has over 7,000 participants enrolled at around 600 high schools, and the numbers are similar with other sanctioning tournament organizations.
State associations dedicated to coordinating and running tournaments are filling a vital void where the sport is not supported by statewide sanctioned high school athletic associations. SETX and the Texas High School Bass Association are an example, with events that draw up to 500 teams at both organizations.