Bass fishing state champions

The Angola High School team of senior Drake Brown, left, and junior Connor Tonkel won the Student Angler Federation Indiana State Bass Fishing Championship Saturday at the Brookville Lake Reservoir.

ANGOLA — The final sporting activity of the 2020-21 school year for Angola High School produced state champions.

The team of senior Drake Brown and junior Connor Tonkel from the school’s bass fishing club won Student Angler Federation Indiana State Championship on Saturday at Brookville Lake Reservoir, which is roughly 25 miles south of Richmond in southeastern Indiana.

Brown and Tonkel caught five bass with a combined weight of 10 pounds. The team of Donnie Hoskins and Henry Fleetwood from Brown County caught four bass weighing 9 pounds, 9 ounces. Brownsburg’s Dylan May and Brady Westrich were third by catching five bass at 9 pounds, 1 ounce.

Brown, who graduated on Sunday, and Tonkel were one of three Angola teams taking part in the state tournament and they all caught bass. Of the 32 teams in the tournament, only 19 caught fish.

The Angola team of Ty Maggart and Keegan Brown finished in 15th place, catching two bass for a total weight of 3 pounds, 2 ounces. The duo of Wyatt Maggart and Dylan Oberlin was 16th with one bass weighing 2 pounds, 10 ounces.

All three teams were in the second of the two flights Saturday, which lasted from 6 a.m. to 3:15 p.m., just before weigh-in.

The lake level was up as much as five feet after rain on Wednesday and Thursday.

Brown and Tonkel found the right spot on the big 5,260-acre lake with the help of technology to catch fish.

“You discover quickly in a reservoir that there is fluctuation,” Angola coach John Maggart said. “The fish (on our local lakes) are structure-oriented.

Sometimes (with fluctuation), those tiny brains don’t know what to do and they die. But the fish often aim toward something solid. They relate to timber. They relate to rock.

“At a rock flat, the boys decided what technique they wanted to do. They catch one, then you start fishing and start fanning all around,” he added. “It takes an athlete to catch fish. It was 87 degrees and you can’t get out of the boat.”

With the state championship, Brown and Tonkel qualified for the 12th annual High School National Championship, which will take place from June 30 to July 3 at Lake Hartwell in Anderson, South Carolina.

Maggart appreciated Brown and Tonkel for the preparation they put in to be ready for the state tournament and the exposure they will bring to the AHS fishing club.

Maggart is in his third year coaching Angola’s fishing club. He wants to reach out to all types of kids and makes education important in being part of the team. The kids need to maintain a 2.0 grade point average to remain on the team.

Maggart holds team meetings monthly that helps the kids be more knowledgeable. Some ideas include having pro bass fishermen teach kids how to catch fish and having representatives from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources speak about boat safety.

“I’d love to have kids join who never put a pole in their hands before,” Maggart said. “This creates so much camaraderie. I want to help try to touch lives.

“The SAF’s main goal is education through fishing. We make several educational tools available. Kids can gain points at weigh-in in quizzes. There’s scholarship money available.”

If AHS kids are interested in being a part of the fishing club or people in the community want to help sponsor the club, contact Maggart by phone at 668-2217 or by email at pawpamagg@gmail.com.

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