The Magnolia West Anglers Club teaches students to fish and be individuals of upstanding character, Parent Coordinator Robin Carter said.

“Our mission statement is to be fishers of men, so we go out and try to help kids who wouldn’t concentrate too much on their school grades and give them something that they love to do,” Carter said. “They have to [have] pass[ing grades] to play, so they really get serious to keep their grades up.”

The fishing group began as a sport-fishing club at the 4-H Club level three years ago and became a school-sponsored club at Magnolia West High School in 2014, she said. The club’s original roster included six students, but the group grew to 34 members during the 2015-16 school year and expects to have about the same number of members for 2016-17. As the fishing club’s third season begins, Carter said she hopes the club continues to add members.

Club members are paired into teams and strive to catch the heaviest fish. They compete in bass fishing tournaments that have length requirements. Contestants who catch the heaviest collective weight move on to the next level—regional, state or national.

“You fish your way to the championship, and if you make your way to the championship, then you’re starting to fish for scholarship dollars,” Carter said.

Members of the Magnolia West Anglers Club fish competitively at tournaments for scholarship money. Members of the Magnolia West Anglers Club fish competitively at tournaments for scholarship money.[/caption]

A few club members collectively took home $1,500 total in scholarship money last season, Carter said.

She said tournaments are held on lakes statewide, including Lake Conroe, Lake Fayette, Lake Travis and Lake Sam Rayburn.

“They won [the] state [tournament] going to the Highlands Reservoir, which we’re not accustomed to here, so that makes them really versatile fishermen,” Carter said. “It’s kind of cool to see them be that competitive as they travel outside of what they call their own backyard or their home lake.”

In addition to the competitive aspect, the club features educational and community service components. Carter said club members learn water safety and species preservation as well as how to fish. No experience is necessary to join the club.

Cameron Carter, Robin Carter’s son and a founding member of the anglers club, said club members teach younger students in Magnolia —including elementary school students—to fish and compete. Club members also put in nearly 200 hours of community service activities, such as donating clothes and visiting a nursing home, he said.

Additionally, the Magnolia West club is helping students at Magnolia High School start a similar club, club member Zach Knowles said.

“It’s kind of cool because we used to not be very experienced,” Zach said. “Through tournaments, it’s taught us a ton.”

Club member Dalton Turpin said fishing competitively has taught him patience.

“You’ve got to be patient when you’re on the water because it’s not every day you’re going to catch five fish sometimes,” Dalton said.

Zach said the fishing club gives students something to look forward to.

“It makes high school a lot more fun. I talk to people who [have] graduated, and they always say they wish there was a fishing club,” he said.

Kirk Clugston, the club’s school sponsor and supervisor, said the fishing club provides students with a nontraditional extracurricular activity.

“It adds something for the kids who aren’t into the traditional sports,” he said. “A lot of kids probably grew up fishing, and it’s something for them to do and get involved.”