HS Bass Fishing: It's Not Just a Sport, It's a Lifestyle

By: Julio Varguez
| Published 03/29/2022


THE WOODLANDS -- The THSBA or Texas High School Bass Association is like the UIL for High School sports but more involved. They strive to provide opportunities and venues to students wanting to participate in bass fishing. Like many sports The Woodlands High School has some of the best members of their team that compete all around Texas. This sport is always in playoff mode, where if the student happens to miss an event, the point scale is too competitive to even make it in the top bracket. Being more involved than many other High School sports, the Bass Fishing team at The Woodlands High School gets up as early as 4am to begin their day scouting the waters and throwing lines in hopes to catch the big one. Henry Burns is the Coach for The Woodlands Bass Fishing Team and member of the THSBA. His interview showcases the extreme dedication in not only the coach and organization, but the dedication of the kids and students that want to participate in this sport.

Interview with Henry Burns
History Teacher / Coach of TWHS Bass Fishing Team

How did you get started with this career, teaching and fishing?
When I was child I fished with dad, connected immediately to the outdoor experience.
Started teaching at the TWHS in 1998, this is my 24th year with the school. I really enjoy teaching, never really thought of another career.

What do you hope your students accomplish by being involved with the team?
My main goal when starting this program was giving students another option. When you fish there is no other sport that it connects closely to at the high school level. Our program encourages anglers to fish as a sport or at a highly competitive level.

What skills do you try and teach your students?
When it comes to competition the skills our anglers need to have is understanding of how weather affects bass, reading electronics, how to map out a lake, and the many different fishing techniques for each season. After you develop those skills then execution becomes very important. Being able to present lures correctly, matching equipment with presentation, the ability to read the water, and landing the fish. Becoming a great high school angler is an evolution that takes years of experience. Everything you do before and during a tournament can make or break your day. (Probably heard a lot the 'fish that got away' stories)

What happens during a tournament?
Leading up to a tournaments anglers prepare by pre-fishing and as a boat team (two anglers and one boat captain) deciding what area of the lake to fish. Typical tournament:
Pre-fish Friday and make you are organized: gear is fined tuned, have all equipment including appropriate dressed (cold weather tournaments are tough), and a plan for the tournament day
Day of Tournament
4:00 wake-up, get ready for the day
5:00 Launch boat and travel to location
6:30-3:00 Fish
3:00-4:30 Weigh-in fish and spend time with team

Can you make a career out of bass fishing or is it just a skill to learn towards a hobby?
Yes, former Highlander Hugh Cosculluela putting the in to become pro. As an angler you qualify by fishing Bassmaster Elite Series Regional tournaments. Last year he was just outside the top three to qualify as a pro.

What is a common misconception for this club?
Fishing is as simple as throwing a worm in the water and catching fish. This is a sport about skill and determination.

What is the biggest bass you have caught?
8.5 pounds and I am also a saltwater angler.

Biggest bass one of you student have caught?
Largest bass weighed in 9.68 pounds by Anthony Pondant at Lake Somerville (I'll send pic)

Can you fish locally? What does that include?
Local ponds are great place to fish. Subdivisions and parks is a place to start for anglers or just having fun. Buy a good rod and reel and have fun!

What do you want people to know about this sport?
Works like any other sport, takes hard work to be the best. Fastest growing high school sport over the last 10-years. Texas High School Bass Association will give out over $700,000 scholarships/further education opportunities this season alone.
Here is some links to THSBA:
Angler-of-the-Year The Woodlands took three of the top four out of 152 boat teams
Team of the Year Bayou City Division: 1st place three year-in-a-row TWHS

What does it take for a beginner to start fishing?
Passion to be outdoors and enjoy catching a fish. For our angler it becomes a lifestyle; it is what you do and what you think about.

Why is this important to you?
Really enjoy seeing what this sport does for our anglers. It makes them hungry to learn more and brings the best out of them.

Regionals Lake Austin 4/9/22
State Championship Belton Lake 5/14-15/22 Two-day tournament
2022-2023 Schedule (whole state)

Press Release
Seeking State Championship

The Woodlands Bass Fishing Team hopes to reel in a State Championship after capturing the title of Texas High School Bass Association’s Bayou City Division Champions for the third straight year.
Twenty TWHS anglers will compete at the THSBA Regional Tournament April 9th at Lake Travis to qualify for the May’s State tournament at Belton Lake.
“I’m really proud of our anglers,” Coach Henry Burns said. “They have improved so much over the past two years.”
Seniors Elliott Oefinger and Keaton Rue won Angler of the Year honors for the Bayou City Division, finishing in first place out of 150 boat teams for the season and winning a $3,000 scholarship.
Seniors Hank Chauffe and Aidan Neely finished in third place and receive a $2,000 scholarship, and juniors Ryan Clarke and Ethan Mitchell took fourth place.
Eleven of the fourteen boat teams for TWHS qualified for the Regional Tournament by ranking in the top 50% of division boat teams for the five regular season tournaments.
“Our anglers put the work in to qualify,” Burns said. “Making it to Travis gives them hope for the next level. Almost all of our boat teams qualified, which shows the quality of our program.”
As a team, The Woodlands won three of those five tournaments, following a run of nine straight wins from 2019 to 2021.
“It’s very hard for an organization to win one tournament,” Burns said. “Winning nine in a row was just incredible. Unfortunately, our 2020 season ended early because of Covid. Our team was very deep from top to bottom.”
The Woodlands High School Bass Fishing Team was formed in 2013 and has grown from 10 initial participants to more than 125 student anglers. The team began as an inshore program, organizing tournaments on small local ponds.
In 2014 Coach Burns saw the need for competitive offshore opportunities for student anglers. That summer, several schools joined to start the Houston High School Fishing Conference (HHFC). The conference began with 13 boat teams and grew to over 85 in less than four months.
Later, HHFC joined THSBA and now is part of the Houston and Bayou Divisions of THSBA.
The Bass Fishing Team still holds Inshore tournaments to provide quality fishing experiences to anglers of all skill levels who are students at both McCullough Junior
High and The Woodlands High School. The inshore series includes a season championship for middle school and high school students.
In 2018, the Bass Fishing Team added Major League Fishing-style real-time scoring to the inshore tournaments, which increased the competitive excitement and allows the anglers’ families to participate in the action. The Inshore program acts as a feeder system that contributes to the growth and success of the offshore program.
The Bass Fishing Team provides the opportunity for students to not only fish but also serve in the community. Each year the team conducts a service project called Support an Angler that encourages members to raise money for fishing related charities.
Over the last seven years, the team has donated more than $22,000 to charity. The major benefactor of the program is Texas Boys Outdoors, which provides fishing adventures to veterans and children facing life-threatening medical issues or special situations.
For more information on the team, visit

Texas High School Bass Association
2022 – 2023 Schedule

Bayou City
9/17/22 - Conroe
10/15/22 - Livingston
11/12/22 – Somerville
2/11/23 – Toledo Bend
3/11/23 - Limestone
*4/15/23 - Conroe

THSBA State Championship
Sam Rayburn

May 20-21, 2023

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