Federation Spotlight

Kincaid Junior Bassmasters are learning how to become BASS Federation standard-bearers at an early age. The Kentucky club is a glowing example of the BASS Federation Junior Club program's goal of promoting youth fishing and equipping youths with the tools to be responsible, active members of their communities. The Federation recognized the hard work of these youngsters by presenting the 2001 Outstanding Overall Junior Club Award to the Kincaid Junior Bassmasters Fishing Club during the 2002 CITGO Bassmasters Classic. The main event the club hosts each May is the P&E tournament for physically and emotionally challenged kids at Kincaid Lake. "We make it kind of a one-on-one tournament," said Allen Bonar, who has been the club's adult supervisor since its inception in 2000. "One club member takes one of the handicapped kids and makes them their pal for the day." The club members fish with the participants and help bait their hooks and take fish off the hooks. After the tournament, parents have a cookout for everyone, followed by an awards ceremony. Door prizes are also given away to all the participants. Bonar estimates the tournament usually draws about 20 to 25 physically and emotionally challenged kids and about 95 percent of the club members. Sinking Christmas trees in Kincaid Lake is a fish habitat project the club conducts each February. Club members usually pick up about 30 to 40 trees left from a local lumber yard's Christmas tree lot and convert the unwanted trees into cover for bass. The club participates in about 10 to 12 projects a year, Bonar said. Each October the youngsters get involved in a canned food drive, and last year collected more than 1,200 cans for two local resource centers. The Junior Bassmasters also collect aluminum cans for a recycling project each October during the town's Wool Festival. Bonar noticed cleaning up the lake and roads seemed to be the youngsters' least popular project, until they discovered the importance of such a task. "I had a guest speaker from the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources come to our banquet, and after he talked to them they kind of realized that it wasn't such a bad deal," said Bonar. Besides its involvement in community activities, the 14-member club holds tournaments throughout the year to qualify for a season-ending Classic. "When it comes to fishing, they are eager, they are ready to go," said Bonar of his Junior Bassmasters. "Some of these kids can fish from daylight to dark." Club members qualify for the Classic by accumulating points based on meeting attendance, projects and tournament finishes. During their Classic, the youths have a chance to fish and ride with adult club members. "In this area there are a lot of kids who have probably never ridden in a boat," said Bonar. Despite its short existence, the Kincaid Junior Bassmasters Club has already accumulated several awards. In their inaugural year of 2000, the club won the Southern Division Chapter of the Year honor and was recognized by the Kentucky BASS Federation as its Chapter of the Year. In 2001, the club also received Southern Division Overall Junior Chapter and Special Tournament/Event awards and the National BASS Federation Special Tournament/Event Award. Whether they are competing in tournaments or fishing with handicapped youth, the Kincaid Junior Bassmasters are eager to show why they are blue chip recruits for the Federation adult ranks in the near future.