If you've ever prepared for a big fishing trip, you might be able to appreciate the work Hutchinson High School sophomores GianCarlo Fumagalli and Jay Rickertsen have put into their journey. The teen anglers are competing in the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Championship Oct. 22-24 at Kentrcky Lake and Lake Barkley in Paris, Tennessee.
"We've been doing a lot of studying," Fumagalli said," looking at videos, looking at what bait they use for what fish, how they fish on other lakes around it."
"There's a lot of pre-planning," Rickertsen said. "We're looking in detail on the contour maps and seeing where the depth drops off and rises, and planning our first spots."
The two anglers — along with boat captain Mark Rickertsen, Jay's father — are taking the trip so seriously because when they arrive they'll be representing Hutchinson and the Hutchinson Tigers bass fishing team. The spot was earned by Fumagalli and Tyler Karg in the 2019-20 school year when they ranked high in the conference tournament and then the state tournament on the Le Homme Dieu Chain in Alexandria.
"On the first day we had only 13 pounds, which is a good bag, but we thought we were going to get maybe 50th," Fumagalli said. "An announcer asked how we did, and we thought we did OK. He said if we did another bag like that we're going to nationals."
So the pair — along with boat captain Chad Karg — focused on the next day and did just as the announcer suggested, landing sixth place at the state tournament. The top eight teams were offered a place at the national tournament in Tennessee.
The tournament was originally scheduled for this past summer but shifted to October due to COVID-19. As many as 275 high school teams are expected to compete in the three-day tournament, with all anglers fishing on the first two days, and the top 12 moving on to the third day.
Because Jay and Chad Karg were unable to attend, Fumagalli offered Rickertsen and his father the open positions on his boat. All participate on the Hutchinson Tigers bass fishing team, which tends to launch about 20 boats of anglers in Minnesota tournaments.
Fumagalli and Rickertsen have both been fishing all their lives.
"Pretty much since I could," Fumagalli said.
That led him to sign up for the team following his eighth-grade year.
"I've been fishing since I was a kid, since like real young," Rickertsen said. "I just started tournaments recently."
He's spent a lot of that time fishing with his father.
"And he's been my boat captain for a lot of our tournaments," Rickertsen said. "He's a pretty good boat captain."
Boat captains will play a bigger role in the national tournament than they have in the past. While captains can't fish, they can offer advice and help make decisions in addition to driving the boat. That extra perspective will come in handy as Fumagalli and Rickertsen aim for a high ranking at nationals.
"I want to take it pretty seriously," Rickertsen said. "I'm going to take advantage of this opportunity, try my hardest and see how it goes."
"My goal right now is to get top 12," Fumagalli said. "Top 12 fishes an extra day down there. ... I think we can do pretty good. You never know."
You can follow the team's progress at facebook.com/hutch.bass.3.