Fishing: Lander commit McCall is addicted to the sport – Salisbury Post

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By Mike London

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CHINA GROVE – Harrison McCall was 6 or 7 years old when he caught his first bass from a boat.

The venue was Lake Norman. The lure he used was a Shaky Head.

“That first catch was done while fishing with my dad (Barry),” McCall said. “I’ve never forgotten how the first one felt. Fishing has definitely hooked me for life – and there’s no pun intended.

McCall moved on to much bigger and better things in the fishing world. His long list of victories and high placings in local, regional and even national fishing tournaments would take an hour to read.

A junior at Carson, McCall is so adept at the sport that he’s committed to accepting a fishing scholarship from Lander University in Greenwood, SC, a school that’s something of a powerhouse in the college ranks of bass fishing. Lander has a mixed angling roster of 38 men and women and has not just a head coach, but a director of bass fishing operations.

The NCAA is not involved in bass fishing. This means certain advantages for fishing schools. Lander anglers may have sponsors. They can represent and advertise a business. They can receive free materials and win substantial prizes in tournaments.

“Lander is one of about 15 or 20 colleges that offer fishing scholarships,” McCall said. “But there are a ton of schools like UNC and NC State that have very competitive bass fishing club teams. In some of the big college tournaments, there are 250 boats on the water. It is a growing sport. »

McCall said he was contacted to catch bass for Lander by head coach Drew Pridgen.

McCall’s official visit was basically a perfect day of summer fishing with Pridgen on Greenwood Lake near the Lander campus.

“He was following my career and he said he liked that I didn’t act like a jerk on social media,” McCall said. “He offered me a scholarship that day. I loved the school when I went there during the summer months, but I still wanted to see what it was like when all the students were in session, so I went back about a month ago. I loved him even more, and that’s when I got involved. Basically, Lander can do anything for a bass fishing student that he can do for someone on a baseball scholarship, things like free tutoring.

McCall is an excellent student. He thinks the bass fishing scholarship combined with college scholarships will amount to something very close to a free education.

And it is the dream of all students and parents.

“I was excited and relieved to get this offer,” McCall said. “My parents are excited and relieved and I know they are proud. I am grateful to them. My dad drove me everywhere to tournaments for years and he drove the boat when I started. My mom (Lee) was my manager and she was like an agent, lining up all kinds of local sponsors for me. These sponsors have been huge, paying the gas, paying these entry fees.

The serious fishing for McCall dates back to the 2017-18 school year. He won a Junior Bassmaster tournament on Lake Norman. McCall and his fishing partner Will Webb, now a standout athlete at Salisbury High, won the North Carolina Middle School state championship on Lake Norman and qualified for the national event.

McCall was still in college at Salisbury Academy in 2018-19 when he won several local tournaments. He was able to compete in high school that year because he had a sophomore fishing partner in Carson Palmer of Richfield. They placed second in the Student Angler Federation High School Fishing State Championship and they won the Major League Fishing State Championship.

The duo competed in the FLW (Fishing League Worldwide) National Championship Qualifier on Pickwick Lake, Alabama. In some ways, this was the key tournament in McCall’s life.

“Two-day national tournament, 400 boats, and we’re fifth after that first day (with three bars: weighing 12 pounds, 13 ounces),” McCall said. “Then we went out and got zeroed on the second day. I did not manage the nerves. I let the pressure get to me that day, but I learned from it. This is the last time I let my nerves get the better of me in a fishing tournament.

The 2019-20 season brought more wins for McCall and a trip to Wisconsin to compete in another FLW High School National Championship Qualifier.

There was another SAF State High School Championship in 2020-21. This victory came at High Rock Lake.

McCall competed for a time in the North Carolina Bassmaster High School, but he made the decision to participate in the Phoenix Bass Fishing League, which offered opportunities to win bigger prizes.

Now he competes on the Phoenix circuit and is on the lake as an individual.

Phoenix is ​​a big company. Boaters can win $10,000 in cash and prizes for local events. They can win $60,000 for regional championships and up to $100,000 for national wins.

Last October, competing in Prosperity, SC, on Lake Murray in the Southeast Regional Championship, McCall caught six bass, weighing 15 pounds, 9 ounces, and placed fifth out of 168 boats. He won $1,000 and qualified for the Phoenix All-American Tournament to be held in early June on Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, Ark. This will be his next major event.

McCall played a lot of baseball in his youth, participated in high profile travel programs, but the sports he came to love the most were golf and fishing.

“There are similarities between golf and fishing,” McCall said. “Both sports are about 75% mental. Maybe 25% of fishing is technical, being able to cast well and that sort of thing, but a lot more fishing is a mental game.

McCall is a good golfer for Carson. He shoots in the low 40s for nine holes most days, but he also shot a 37 this season in Piedmont South Conference play.

He is a well-rounded junior. He volunteers for Special Olympics and for the North Carolina Board of Elections. He is active in the church and as a photographer.

But it was fishing that hooked McCall for life.

“The only way to get better at fishing is to spend time on the water,” McCall said. “You learn something new every time you fish. My dad tells me to try to do 1% better every time I go there.

His track record indicates that he does just that.

McCall says he got bored with the rehearsals needed to be a good baseball player, but every day on the lake offers something new.

“No two days are alike when you’re fishing,” he said. “Rain or shine – or both. Water clarity can be very different. The wind may be strong or it may be calm. When trying to catch fish, you always think. Every day on the water is a whole new puzzle, and your job is to try to solve it.

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