Cherokee County Herald - - VIEWPOINTS -

“We make them go to bed at a re­spectable time,” said Ro­bi­son. “It is a hard day when you start fish­ing at day light. You don’t want to stay up all night yakety yak­ing.”

“But it has been a good ex­pe­ri­ence for all of them,” said Ro­bi­son. “They got to travel, see dif­fer­ent lakes and got to fish with dif­fer­ent boat cap­tains and learn dif­fer­ent tech­niques. It has been a good ex­pe­ri­ence for all of them. I don’t think you would find one who wasn’t happy.”

Fish­ing among both col­lege and high school stu­dents is grow­ing at a rapid pace, ac­cord­ing to Ro­bi­son and Eyres.

“Some­body told me Alabama will sell more fish­ing li­censes this year than ever be­fore,” said Ey­ers. “And a ma­jor­ity of that is col­lege and high school kids buy­ing fish­ing li­censes that never would have in the past. So that is rev­enue that is brought back into the com­mu­nity. The big­gest re­wards is we love bass fish­ing. We sit in that boat all day. We are just happy to see how well they have done this year has been a re­ward in it­self. When we show up to a tour­na­ment, there are Sand Rock Jer­seys on the stage, there are Sand Rock jer­seys in the stands, Sand Rock jer­seys at the tank. You can’t look across the crows with­out see­ing sev­eral Sand Rock jer­seys.”

Eyres and Ro­bi­son said the par­ents and com­mu­nity have been “over­whelm­ingly sup­port­ive” of the teams. And the com­mu­nity ser­vice an­gle is another huge plus.

“That is one thing that is a must,” said Eyres. “That is one thing for sure. We had never done any­thing like this be­fore. The big­gest thing I had done was go around find­ing spon­sors for our fish­ing team.”

“I walked into There­asa Hul­gan’s of­fice at the Chero­kee County Cham­ber of Com­merce and she opened my eyes,” said Eyres. “I didn’t re­ally know any­body but when I walked in there and sat down I thought ‘well I am from Sand Rock, I will stay on that side of the bridge.’ She said, she said ‘no sir you are from Chero­kee County and this com­mu­nity will sup­port you’ and there was no doubt in my mind. I went to her and talked to Mark Collins. He told me ‘We have a Weiss Lake Im­prove­ment Author­ity meeting com­ing up.’ I got to talk to Mark prob­a­bly for the first time about an hour on the phone. We talked about this, this and this. We were look­ing for sup­port. By the end of the phone call they were willing to sup­port us but at the same time, this lake has been so good to ev­ery­body at Sand Rock. It was time for not only to have a fish­ing team but also to have com­mu­nity ser­vice.”

“I think the first habi­tat we did with them, we had 14 kids on Mon­day or Wed­nes­day, said Eyrse. “Just just to see

Pic­tured are D.J. Mitchell and Jake Ca­gle with the Cedar Bluff High School Fish­ing team who placed in tour­na­ments this past sea­son. Lo­cal high school an­glers are now vol­un­teer­ing some of their time with the Weiss Lake Im­prove­ment Author­ity.

them get af­ter it, to see them tot­ing that con­crete, to see them stack­ing that brush.

“They wouldn’t have had that op­por­tu­nity had we not started that fish­ing team.”

Mark Collins, pres­i­dent, Weiss Lake Im­prove­ment Author­ity, com­mended the com­mu­nity for its sup­port of lo­cal chil­dren and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

In ad­di­tion to keep­ing stu­dents busy and pos­si­bly out of trou­ble if they par­tic­i­pate in other ac­tiv­i­ties or go to other places, Collins said, fish­ing teaches them to be part of a team.

“You are learn­ing to work with peo­ple in the fu­ture,” said Collins. “You can’t be in­de­pen­dent your whole life. You have to learn to work with peo­ple.”

When a stu­dent joins his/her high school fish­ing team, Collins said, they au­to­mat­i­cally be­come mem­bers of the Weiss Lake Im­prove­ment Author­ity.

“You also get your Crap­pie Rodeo badge and things like that,” said Eyrse. “There are perks for these kids to be mem­bers and as for the com­mu­nity ser­vice they do it be­cause they want to, not be­cause they have to. When Alabama Power brings those pon­toons up those kids are wait­ing on the bank wait­ing for some­body else to come along so they can take the next pile of brush out and put a life jacket on. My seven year old loves it.”

What these kids are learn­ing on the lake to­day may ben­e­fit them and their com­mu­nity for years to come, Eyres said.

“Maybe one of those kids that got in­volved, 20 years from now will be back at home and thing, ‘I need to keep that lake,”’ said Eyres. “But just meeting peo­ple like Mark Collins, There­asa Hul­gan, it has been great.”

(Com­ing in the fu­ture: More on lo­cal fish­ing teams)

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