CAL’s new bass fishing team hits the deep waters in their first season

From busted tires to sticking on the lake, CAL’s new bass fishing team has already been through the ups and downs of an entire year.

“For a lot of them, they didn’t realize how technical bass fishing can be,” said Thomas Peck, CAL coach and team founder. “There are things like learning to read the electronics on your boat and using sonar that make it more in-depth…but they learned a lot.”

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Peck got the idea to start a bass fishing team at CAL two years ago while attending his son Hayden’s open house. Despite the school’s love, it bothered Peck and Hayden that CAL didn’t offer bass fishing, but St. Xavier, Trinity, and DeSales did.

Peck grew up learning to fish from his father and passed it down to his own sons. He fell in love with participating in bass fishing tournaments and organizing a series for the Fishers of Men National Tournament Trail – a ministry that aims “to introduce Jesus to fishermen and their families and invite them to a relationship with him, through bass fishing tournaments,” according to the organization’s mission statement.

Thomas Peck is the fishing team coach for the Christian Academy of Louisville.  March 29, 2022

Peck was determined to deliver the same message to CAL, so he insisted on creating a team. But was CAL interested?

Although this is their first season, the Centurions have wanted a team for years. The KHSAA didn’t sanction bass fishing until 2012, but 10 years later the sport has expanded to 126 schools statewide.

However, Jefferson County is slow to adapt to bass fishing. The only county schools that participated were Trinity, St. Xavier and DeSales. CAL felt left out, especially since there were students who had real potential for the sport.

Senior Landon Donahue started fishing with his grandfather when he was young. Donahue’s grandfather was a semi-professional bass fisherman who taught him the importance of preparation, patience and how to pick a fish from the water. For years he wanted to use these skills.

As her senior year approached, her wish was granted.

“I’ve always loved the sport, so when I heard CAL was going to start a team, I really wanted to join,” Donahue said. “I loved going fishing with my dad or watching him come home with my grandfather with a big bass. I thought that was so cool.”

Landon Donahue is a member of the fishing team at the Christian Academy of Louisville.  He is seen with his teammates in a pond off Shelbyville Road.  March 29, 2022

Not all of CAL’s anglers are as experienced as Donahue, but that hasn’t stopped the team from improving through its first month.

Freshman Ethan Zunbrunnen said he loves to fish but never did it for competition. He takes the opportunity to relax, so playing under pressure is a new experience for him.

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“There are a lot of good things about doing this as a team,” Zunbrunnen said. “There are other people to help you. I had to adapt to waking up at the same time and going to the same place, but other than that there were things that were the same.”

Cade Howard and Lucas Bischoff waited for a bite to eat at a pond near Shelbyville Road.  The boys are members of the fishing team at the Christian Academy of Louisville.  March 29, 2022

Bass fishing requires anglers to go out on a boat for eight hours and bring in their five heaviest fish. The more weight gain. Last Saturday, the Centurions entered their first bass fishing tournament and faced adversity from the start.

“One of our guys was putting his boat in the water and his tire blew,” said CAL angler Lucas Bischoff. “So he was quite late because he had to go and get a new tire to take it off.”

Things got worse for the team. Since the waters were cold and muddy, no one on the team caught more than two fish. It wasn’t the start the team was looking for, but that didn’t stop the thrill of the afternoon.

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It’s still early days for the team and Peck expects there will be ups and downs throughout the year, but he sees excitement in the team and a desire to improve. He knows CAL can build something special, but it will just take patience.

Members of the fishing team from the Christian Academy of Louisville were waiting for a bite in a pond off Shelbyville Road in Middletown.  March 29, 2022

“We not only want them to grow in wisdom and stature and favor as men of God, but we also want them to win fishing tournaments,” Peck said. “And they were upset. They want to win.”

Follow Courier Journal reporter JL Kirven on Twitter @JL_Kirven for more Louisville prep sports updates.