Student anglers finish among top in country

By Lisa Burnett Published August 11, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
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— Becoming a world-class fisherman comes with a price. It takes hours on the water in all kinds of weather, including sweltering heat, and patience to wait for that trophy fish to bite.

Two students on the 2013 North Pulaski High School fishing team proved that they had those skills when they competed July 14-20 in The Bass Federation High School Fishing World Finals at Lake Dardanelle in Russellville.

Joe Sigler and John Ball from North Pulaski High School finished among the top 20 teams in the country out of 133 teams representing the United States and Canada.

Sigler and Ball, who just finished their senior year at the Jacksonville school, said they were excited to finish the competition in 12th place.

“This was my third year to compete,” Ball said. “It felt good [to place].”

Ball said that the he past two years he has competed, a team had to finish in the top seven to qualify for the top teams.

This year, the top-finisher pool was extended to the top 20 teams.

“I love being out on the water,” Ball said. “There’s nothing like it when you catch good fish like that.”

Competitors are allowed to choose where on Lake Dardanelle they want to fish.

For the first three days, anglers fished to make the top 20 to fish on the fourth day of the tournament. On the fourth day, all weights were zeroed, and the top 20 teams competed in the one-day final tournament.

Robbie Walker, North Pulaski High School fishing coach, said he’s proud of Ball and Sigler for finishing in the top 20.

“They managed to fish through a four-day tournament and finish right at about 12 pounds [of fish] a day,” he said.

Each boat had two student anglers and a boat captain, which has to be an adult, Walker said. The captain can make suggestions on where an angler should fish.

Walker, who has been the fishing coach for about five years, said he had Ball and Sigler on his team last year.

“It was good for them because this was their third year to compete,” Walker said. “They’ve been close the last two years, and I was glad they could [make the top 20].”

Becoming the 12th best fishing team in the nation doesn’t come easy; it comes with hours of practice and time on the water.

“The mindset is the hardest part of fishing,” Ball said. “You just have to have the right mindset and slow down. This time of year, you aren’t going to catch the fish quick.”

Ball said Walker has helped him and his teammates learn how to have the right mindset.

“[Fishing] is a grind,” Ball said. “You just have to do what you’re always taught to do.”

Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or

Online News Editor Lisa Burnett can be reached at

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