provided by John Phillips
One of Mossy Oak’s basic tenets is to help young people learn about and grow in their outdoor endeavors. Along with Bassmaster, Mossy Oak has sponsored bass fishing tournaments for the Junior Series (young people that includes students from 2nd to 8th grade), the High School Series and the College Series. These tournaments give students educational opportunities to learn to bass fish, be coached in bass fishing and know how to compete and work with pros and fishing tackle companies to later gain entry into the fishing industry. Just as in team sports, these dedicated young anglers now have a direct pathway to reach their dreams through these established channels. Mossy Oak is helping these young people live their best lives outdoors by sponsoring tournaments and awarding trophies, money and scholarships to the winning fishing teams.
For the first time in the 50-year history of Bassmaster, two high school anglers fished on the final day of the 2020 Bassmaster Classic at Guntersville Lake with 50-plus of Bassmasters’ top pros. Tucker Smith and Grayson Morris for two consecutive years - 2018 and 2019 - had proven to be the best high school tournament bass fishermen in the nation. Smith and Morris, both of Birmingham, Alabama’s Briarwood Christian High School, won the 2018 and the 2019 Bassmaster High School National Championship - the first team to win back-to-back national championships. For this unbelievable accomplishment, Morris and Smith earned the right to fish the last day of the 2020 Bassmaster Classic with the pro bass fishermen they had read about and wanted to be like for as long as they could remember.
“I’ve been bass fishing forever,” Tucker Smith said. “I started fishing with my grandfather, Bo Stanford, when I was little. He and I competed in local tournaments in the Birmingham area, however, we never did place or do very well in those tournaments. But we thoroughly enjoyed competing together. I also fished for bass with my uncle Robbey Stanford who taught me a lot.”
Although Smith once played baseball and other sports, his heart was in tournament bass fishing. He joined the Briarwood High School Bass Fishing Team and met Grayson Morris. Those two young anglers blended their talents to become one of the best high school bass fishing teams the world of high school fishing ever has known. In 2019, Morris graduated and joined the University of Montevallo’s Bass Fishing Team, becoming a part of the school’s Outdoor Scholars Program. Since Smith still had another year of high school, he joined forces with Hayden Marbut. Today, Smith has been offered fishing scholarships at several universities and has narrowed his choices to Auburn University and the University of Montevallo.
Youngsters participating in Mossy Oak’s fishing program can earn scholarships toward their college educations but also possibly have a minimum of 11 years of tournament bass fishing experience on the Junior and High School levels on their resumes and 4 more years of collegiate bass fishing before they ever attempt to become professional bass anglers. Because the fishing industry has gotten behind these programs for young people who love to fish for bass, these young people now can start working with sponsors, learning what sponsors need and understanding what’s required to be professional bass fishermen before graduating from college. Mossy Oak is proud to be one of the companies helping young people live their outdoor dreams and possibly have careers past college as professional bass anglers.