Jackson Hall and Josh Soroka decided some of their competitors were in too deep.
The Martin seniors-to-be took to shallow water to earn a fourth-place finish at the Texas High School Bass Association state tournament June 18-19 at Toledo Bend Reservoir on the Texas-Louisiana border. Their finish netted the anglers $2,000 apiece in scholarship money, not to mention some impressive trophies.
Soroka and Hall’s accomplishment at state was part of a successful season for the Martin bass fishing team. Martin completed its second official season of competition by sending three teams — five anglers total — to the state tournament. Martin wasn’t the only Arlington school to make waves. First-year fishing program Arlington High earned West Division Team of the Year honors.
“Going in, we thought we were going to be top 20,” Soroka said of state. “We didn’t think we were going to be top 5.”
At state, Soroka and Hall thrived by performing consistently well both days of the tournament. Their Day One catches totaled 15 pounds, followed by 13 pounds on Day Two. “The good thing about two-day tournaments is people can go and catch 20 pounds the first day and 2 pounds the second day,” Soroka said. “What’s key about two-day tournaments is staying consistent.”
While fishing at the lake prior to the tournament, the duo noticed that the 20- to 30-foot-deep water wasn’t where the largemouth bass were primarily biting. “We figured out they’re probably still in the bushes, and we just stayed shallow in 5 or 6 feet of water,” Soroka said. “We did this thing where you flip the bait inside of the bush basically.”
The pair caught most of their fish in the early morning near the water’s surface. Hall said experience proved vital to their success. “In fishing, I’m a sponge and I just soak up any amount of information, stuff I see other people do,” Hall said. “And I just keep growing any opportunity I ever have.”
The state tournament wasn’t easy. Storms on Day One created challenging conditions. “It’s a big, scary lake,” Soroka said. “One of the days there was a storm and we had waves coming over the front of the boat.”
Martin incoming seniors and fishing partners Caden August and Colin Nailor finished in the top 65 at state — ahead of 115 other teams. At an earlier tournament, Nailor hauled in a 10.97-pound fish — the biggest bass caught in the region this season.
“I knew it was a big fish,” said Nailor. “I didn’t know how big it was until I got it out to put it in the weigh-in bag.”
August recalled how little he knew about bass fishing a few years ago when he set out in a fishing boat in Lake Arlington for the first time. “I felt like I was doing everything wrong,” he said.
Flash forward to this June at state and he and Nailor felt like veteran bass fishermen. “I was running the trolling motor. He was running the trolling motor, and we were just basically doing our own thing,” August said.
Courtney Peterson and Sophia Biggs, the Martin bass fishing team’s first two girls, also learned a lot this season. The duo, who qualified for regionals, will be sophomores in the fall. It was easy for Peterson to identify the toughest part of becoming a competitive bass angler.
“Being out on the water for eight hours,” she said. “It’s a really long time.”
But Peterson and Biggs found an effective way to pass the time. Rachael Peterson, Courtney Peterson’s mom and the Martin bass fishing team’s faculty sponsor/coach, said the girls would regularly make up silly songs while out on the water.
“The girls sing on the boat,” Rachael Peterson said. “They keep it in perspective, but they have a good time.”
The Arlington Steelers youth football league is registering players for its upcoming season. The first scrimmmage is July 30.
Flag football (ages 5 and 6) is $150 and tackled (ages 7-12) is $175.
Information and registration: www.arlingtonsteelers.com
The Optmist Club of Arlington is registering 10U and 12U baseball teams beginning July 1.
The Arlington Soccer Association will hold tryouts for its competitive teams beginning July 1 at the Harold Patterson Complex.
Information and registration: www.arlingtonsoccer.org
Youth summer athletics
Arlington Parks and Recreation closes registrating this week for youth volleyball and a lacrosse clinic. Both cost $75.
The lacrosse clinic is July 6 and is for ages 7-12, while the volleyball league is for ages 9-14 and begins competition on July 16.
YMCA summer sports camps
The Arlington YMCA will be hosting a summer soccer camp Aug. 8-11. The camp will cost $19 for members and $75 for program members and is for ages 5-14.
Soccer camp will be held at the Cooper Street YMCA.
Stephen English: firstname.lastname@example.org, @sbenglish74