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Reeling in the 'big one'

From left, Nick Marsh and Kyle Boe proudly display the bass that helped them win a berth to the National High School Bass Fishing Championship. Photo submitted (click for larger version)
September 26, 2012 - "It's like church for me"

That's what Kyle Boe says about his time on Michigan lakes.

Boe, a 2012 Lake Orion High School grad, is on his way to the National High School Bass Fishing Championship.

The national tournament, scheduled for April 2013, is put on by the Student Angler Federation, a subsidiary of the The Bass Federation. Boe qualified for the national tournament along with teammate Nick Marsh from Walled Lake Central.

Boe and Marsh have been on a successful streak of late. At the June 24 Michigan championships, Boe and Marsh brought in the five fish limit, winning the title with 21 lbs, 11 oz., a full two pounds beyond their nearest competitor.

This victory earned Boe and Marsh a berth at the High School Central Conference Championship on Lake Carlysle in Illinois on September 8. State champs from across the Great Lakes region came to the 15-mile long lake to try their skills on the chocolate milk-colored water.

Out on the lake by 7:15 a.m., Boe and Marsh had reached the limit by 8:30. They caught bass totaling 15 lbs.1 oz., which even bested the college teams that day.

Boe's assessment of his team's victory was modest, however. The keys to victory were "just taking our time, fishing slow, and staying focused — being mentally tough."

Highlights from Boe and Marsh's victory can be seen on Nov. 11 from 1-2 p.m on NBC.

These two victories launched Boe and Marsh to the High School National championships to be held in April at a yet unannounced lake. "It will be a new lake, but hopefully we fish instinctively," Boe said.

A $10,000 scholarship is on the line, yet Boe insists he's not anxious.

"We've both fished around enough to catch fish somewhere, (so) I'm not too worried about it. The pressure is off. We've made it this far and what's the worst (that could happen)? We're the fifth best high school (fishing) team in the nation?

Boe has paid his dues on his way to this shot at a National championship.

"It's been a long time coming for me. A lot of late nights and early mornings. People call me crazy for this bass fishing thing. Allocating time that people would never take away just to go fishing."

Boe said he's been fishing "for fun" since he was four or five. He began to get serious about fishing, though, only in the last few years. His father brought him into fishing as a boy, but much of his ability has been self taught, he said, without arrogance. He finds information on-line, on televised fishing shows, and through books and magazines.

However, nothing will substitute for time on the water, he insists.

Often you can find him practicing casts in his yard with rods and reels, even in the winter. Boe fishes as much as possible, at least twice a week.

He played soccer seriously until a major injury suffered in his sophomore year at Lake Orion forced him to reconsider.

After surgeries on both knees sidelined his soccer aspirations, Boe looked for another outlet. He recognized that he had always been into bass fishing and enjoyed watching people fish on television. He thought to himself, "that's pretty cool, they get to fish for a living, You know, I like fishing too."

So he came home that day, and decided that night that "bass fishing is my thing."

Boe said he saw fishing as a way to keep himself out of trouble in high school. When teenagers have too much time on their hands, sometimes it's not a good thing, he said. But beyond that, Boe looks to nature to recharge and ground himself.

"The whole being outdoors thing is something that is really big to me," Boe said. "With fishing I can enjoy the day the way I want to and get away from the human problems and all the (trouble) that we create." It's almost like my church, I guess."

Currently enrolled at Oakland Community College, Boe's future is wide open. He's thinking about starting his own fishing-related business, and the National fishing championship could help make the decision easier. If he wins, he will split a $10,000 scholarship with Marsh.

He's taking his time at OCC, and wants to be certain he's getting a value for the money he invests in his education.

"I see so many kids coming out of school who are so intelligent and yet they don't have some of the street smarts and have so much debt and can't do anything about it. Maybe (they) should have worked a little while and understood how the world works instead of being taught from other people. You've got pick your head up (and) you've got to make your own decisions," he advises.

His fishing has evolved. "When I was a kid, I couldn't catch fish anywhere, because I didn't know what I was doing. I didn't have the full context of it. I thought catching one fish here or there was great. But now it's like: Why did I catch this fish here. It's a total difference.

Now an accomplished angler, the largest bass he's ever caught came in at 6.5 lbs. He's also landed pike from local lakes like Lake Oakland and Lake Orion, some up to 50 inches long.

Even some of the more elusive fish, like muskie, he admitted, "I can't get into the boat, their teeth are so big."

How does he do it? He's got no magic formula, but insists the mental aspects are as important as the physical requirements of fishing.

"Having confidence is very important. If you throw a Texas rig worm, for instance, and they were biting on some type of crank bait, I would tell you to throw a Texas rig worm, because that's what you know and what you're going to be good at. You can't throw something that you don't have confidence in."

But more important than technology, confidence, or luck, "nothing can substitute for time on the water. You learn so much every time you go out," he said.

"I just try to listen to the fish. You can do anything, but if you're not listening to the fish and they aren't in that mood to hit on whatever you're throwing. You've got to (adapt to) the conditions that are present on that day. Sometime people get stuck in listening to what they did last week, but it can change in five minutes."

He looks at fishing from previous eras with respect, but realizes that it is a "totally different game now. I don't think we're better fisherman, but there's just more people, doing a lot more things with perfected techniques and more equipment."

Boe has wisdom and patience beyond his years. Often he speaks with the understanding of a man two or three times his age. He's modest yet confident in his abilities, and expects to have more success.

However he knows that success will only come through preparation. "You have to make your own luck. Luck is nice but unreliable."

For those wanting to improve their angling, he advises to take it slow and have fun. "Fish your strengths; fish what you know and build on that."

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