LA CROSSE, Wis. – It’s no secret that anglers travel from far and wide to reach the High School Fishing World Finals and National Championship each year. Teams from Arizona, Oregon, California, and Florida drove many hours across the country to reach La Crosse, Wisconsin, this week and compete for their shot at the title. But travel time was the least of the worries for the National Championship’s first team from Hawaii.
“We did TBF Worlds last year, we were the first team to compete in it from Hawaii,” Olson said. “That was super cool, so we decided this year to start a club, Hawaii High School Bass Fishing, and we had a state tournament. Ended up winning, and here we are fishing Nationals.”
The freshly minted Hawaii High School Bass Fishing club has roughly a dozen active members. Given the limited bass boating resources on Hawaii, the club had to improvise for their state championship event. The club opted to fish from Kayaks on the Wailua River on Kauai and crown a champion on June 11, leading to a mad scramble to ensure a team could go in time.
“It was like only a week’s notice,” Tumpap said. “We didn’t really know we were coming here until about a week before we left.”
“It’s definitely a pain,” Olson said. “Traveling with rods through the airlines and stuff. That’s the biggest thing that’s tough is bringing the gear. We had to figure out what we were going to need.”
But the biggest logistical issue for the team was finding a boat to run around on Pools 7, 8, and 9. Fortunately, they found help via fellow Hawaiian native, and professional angler, Matty Wong.
“Matty reached out to somebody and posted on his Instagram for us,” Tumpap said. “It’s a local’s boat. They had replied back to his Instagram story and offered to help. So that’s really cool.”
While adapting to the different conditions that the Upper Mississippi has to offer was certainly going to be a challenge for the boys from the islands, they’ve been able to hold their own on Pools 7, 8, and 9, landing in 40th place after two days of competition.
“We are just super stoked that we got to come here and compete,” Olson said. “It was my first time fishing a grass fishery, so that was cool. We have learned a lot. It would be cool to come one day (to the mainland) and have my own boat and fish MLF professionally. That would be killer.”