Drake Bishop and Kaleb Garrett have gone from a few Callaway anglers to Callaway fishing royalty this season. The duo are the first member of the Cavaliers fishing team to make a national tournament as the team qualified for the TBF World Junior Championship. It’s an honor few receive as only a handful of teams from each state qualify.
“It’s pretty cool to be the first Callaway team to go to a national tournament,” Garrett said.
“It’s really good,” Bishop said.
The duo finished third in the state tournament at Neely Henry Lake in Gadsden, Alabama last weekend. The team’s third-place finish at state gave them enough points to earn a second-place finish in the season-long angler points competition to book a spot at the TBF World Junior Championships.
This was almost not the case as the team encountered difficulties in operating their boat on the first day.
“It was tough,” Garrett said. “We had big boat problems.”
Both the first boat and the backup boat had difficulty starting. The hunt for a spot in the TBF Junior World Championship could have ended there, but it didn’t. A man named Dusty Robinson turned out to be the savior. He was at the dock on Wednesday when the boat malfunctioned on the boys. He took the boys on his own time and took them fishing until they found a solution. He was from the area and was training for his own tournament and generously sacrificed his time for the boys, who will be forever grateful for what he did for them.
Few athletes experience what it’s like to compete at the state level let alone at the national level like these two boys are preparing to do.
The two had separate fishing trips before they combined to form a formidable duo in their sixth year. Garrett started fishing in sixth gear and dove in head first. He steadily improved during his tenure as a member of the Callaway Fishing Team. Bishop, meanwhile, started fishing when he was just four years old. However, his first taste of competitive fishing didn’t happen until he joined Callaway’s junior team in sixth grade.
The duo takes part in around 15 to 20 competitions per season. Most of the time they travel to new places and have to experience the lake once they arrive.
“Every lake we fish is different,” Bishop said. “If you’ve never fished this lake before, it’s a totally new experience.”
What makes the sport of fishing so different from other high school and college sports is the fact that the parents of the athlete/athlete must provide most of the equipment, including the boat and the reels, among other supplies. The team is able to afford to travel so far by fundraising throughout the year. The team is already starting to sell advertising space on the boats, uniforms, etc. for next season, but this duo is not worried about next season yet. The team is currently selling TBF Junior World Championship jerseys to help fund their trip to the national championships next month.
Next year, Garrett and Bishop will be on the high school senior team as they transition from eighth to ninth grade, but for now they still have a junior competition. The duo won’t just fill in the numbers, they aim to win it all.
“We’re going out there trying to win,” Garrett said with a smile.
The TBF Junior World Championship will take place July 26-29 at Kentucky Lake in Paris, Tennessee.