OKEECHOBEE — The Big O Teen Anglers are a youth bass angling club that was started about 15 years ago by Bill & Charlie Hays of Okeechobee. They wanted to pass on their love of tournament bass fishing to our local youth in hopes of teaching them of the importance of conservation, community, good sportsmanship and friends. During their tenure with the club, they signed up youth between the ages of 11-19, many of whom now fish professionally. Several years ago, the club was put into new hands and it was recently decided to accept youth between the ages of 10-19.
The past two years have seen some of the club's lowest enrollment numbers, but this year they are starting with 29 anglers and the fishing has been great. Now that numbers are back up, they have made some changes that they are real excited about.
A scholarship program will be offered to Okeechobee High School [OHS] seniors who are on the OHS Bass Fishing Team. This scholarship is in Memory of David Daniel who passed away in December of 2022. He was a previous member of BOTA as well as the OHS fishing team. He is dearly missed.
The second program we have started is called our “Give Back” program. With this program, the youth anglers choose a local charity or non-profit each month and gather up much needed supplies or funds, all of which are donated to that organization the week following the next tournament.
In January, the kids chose Arnold’s Wildlife where they presented towels, cleaners, crates, paper goods, food supplies, garbage bags and so much more. Seven of our anglers attended to drop off. They had a lot of fun. They were given a tour, got to feed the camel, monkeys and lemurs. Tanner Seabolt even got jumped by a ring tail lemur! After feeding time was done, the chores began. Some cleaned out enclosures while others worked to help restore the Butterfly Garden. Parents and kids alike worked side by side till noon.
February’s chosen charity was Trail of Hope. If anyone has anything they would like to donate, please bring it to Trail of Hope on U.S. 98.
These non profits really do perform a great service for our community and with that in mind, don’t forget that without the public’s help they wouldn’t be able to continue what they do for us.
If you know a youth angler between the ages of 9 to 19 that loves fishing or wants to learn a new sport, please reach out to Danielle at 561 436-8491 or email@example.com.