New Boston grad hooked on fishing
A recent New Boston High School graduate has been awarded the first ever Southern Arkansas University Angler’s Scholarship. Isaac Whittington, son of Amanda Whittington, has been fishing competitively with the New Boston High School team for two years, but says his love for the sport began long before that.
“I always thought fishing was a lot of fun, but the summer before my freshman year, my friend Gage Smith and I went fishing in his grandpa’s pond,” Isaac explained. “We caught tons of fish…tons of them.” From that point on, Isaac was, well….hooked.
That fishing trip would be the first of many for the two boys. A couple of years later when New Boston High School formed a competitive fishing team, he and Gage were partners, fishing lakes all over the area in sometimes less than ideal conditions. “We had two tournaments that were just miserable,” Isaac recalled. “At one it was 40 degrees and raining, and at another it was in the 30’s…..and we didn’t catch any fish at either one of them!”
Success didn’t completely elude the two boys, however. They qualified for the championship tournament their junior year, finishing 21st of approximately 140 teams. Their senior year found them both considerably busier, with various school activities and college-prep tests filling their weekend calendars. Isaac actually fished a tournament at Lake Bob Sandlin alone, and placed second - just two-one hundredths of a point behind the winning team. Isaac also joined the Lumber Mill Bass Club, a group of local bass fishing enthusiasts that hold tournaments as often as they can.
So naturally, when it came time for Isaac to start visiting colleges, he was sure to ask if they had a fishing team. At SAU, this question got him a meeting with the president of the fishing team, who encouraged him to apply for the Angler’s Scholarship. “I liked SAU when I visited,” Isaac said. “But when I got the Angler’s Scholarship, that sealed the deal.” Isaac also received numerous other scholarships, totaling $10,300.
Once at SAU, Isaac will be fishing lakes all over the state of Arkansas. His partner at this level is another local young man, Phillip Moore, a 2018 graduate of Hooks High School. Isaac’s goal for next year is simple: catch a 10 pound bass. “My biggest fish so far is 7 pounds 1 ounce, but I didn’t even have that one mounted,” he said. “I’m holding out for a 10 pounder, and I don’t know if I’m going to get it this year, but I will get it!”