It is fall kickoff time for high schools from around East Texas are some of their best students are about to hit the water.
That's right, the water.
While other students are headed for the football field, high school students from Bullard, Wills Point, Rains, Sulphur Springs and other East Texas schools are getting ready for their fishing season that starts in November and will end with a state championship in March.
This is the third year for a Bullard team and the six fishermen that have been participating since the beginning are starting to come into their own just as football players do with experience.
"I have two seniors. When I started with this most of them were coming out of the 8th grade, so they are mostly sophomores," said parent Tim Haugh, who is the adviser for the Bullard team.
Haugh said that with two years of competition experience he is seeing improvement in their game starting with increased numbers of fish at tournament weigh-ins.
"They are bringing in more fish. When they started it was hard for those guys to come in with a limit. They are getting more consistent. I think they are learning how to read the water better. They are learning how to switch baits. They realize they may be comfortable with this bait, but in these water conditions this may be a better bait," he explained.
One example was an outing Haugh took with his son, Kevin, and teammate Landen Beckham.
"I had never fished with Landen before, and he said he knew where some rocks were where they might be able to catch some fish. We moved and they caught a limit. It was all his idea," Haugh said.
In the day-long youth tournaments there are two fisherman and an adult captain who can mentor the youth, must drive the boat and look out for the fishermen's safety.
One big change this season for most of the participating schools in Northeast Texas is a shift to participating under BASS' umbrella in the Bassmaster's High School Nation.
The key difference is that schools with just one two-man team may participate and that during the year the students will be participating for scholarship money and individually for a chance to make the Texas State Team and ultimately compete in the High School Nation's national championship tournament.
Haugh said Northeast Texas schools have formed their own region with their own rules.
The teams will be competing in a five-tournament schedule, and to qualify as a team to advance to the regional tournament a team must participate in three of the five events.
However, that isn't the only way to advance. Teams can also advance by winning an event, and individual fishermen whose team doesn't qualify can advance by being among the top point earners for the season. The best explanation is that it is like high school golf where a golfer can advance with his team or by himself as a medalist.
Haugh said he is looking for more Bullard youth interested in participating, and added that the Northeast Texas region certainly has room for more schools. He said a two-man team from T.K. Gorman may represent their school, but because there are only the two of them they are being welcomed to practice events and to travel with the Bullard team. Teams from Chapel Hill and Jacksonville have also shown interest in competing.
Tournament entry fee is $40 a team with the money going toward door prizes and a scholarship fund.
While finding captains hasn't been a problem in the past, Haugh said it may be more enticing this year because captains will be allowed to fish and participate in their own jackpot tournament separate from the high school event.
For more information contact Haugh at 903-539-3975.
Have a comment or opinion on this story? Contact outdoor writer Steve Knight by email at email@example.com. Follow Steve Knight on Facebook at TylerPaper Outdoors and on Twitter @tyleroutdoor.