Elkhart's Ham and Allen

Elkhart High School’s Justin Ham (left) and Carter Allen, shown here from a March tournament in Bullard, have enjoyed a successful first season of competitive high school fishing. Palestine, Elkhart and Oakwood all fielded first-year fishing teams this season, and the Texas High School Bass Association is set to expand again for 2018-19. 

The Texas High School Bass Association has announced another expansion for the 2018-19 season.

The Palestine High School fishing team will be minimally impacted — but it's another step for the rapidly expanding THSBA.

There will be a new Hill Country Division for schools located in the Austin and San Antonio area, and another division for the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

“For the three divisions in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, we will be assigning teams to their respective divisions in the coming months,” the THSBA reported on its Facebook page.

Palestine fishing team advisor Joey Mason, who also serves as an assistant principal at PHS, said he welcomes the growth.

“It's awesome to see all these young people get involved in the outdoors,” Mason said. “This thing has snowballed the last three, four years. It's great to see these kids have the opportunities to receive scholarships.”

Scholarship money is surely one of the perks of fishing in the THSBA, with $33,000 available at each of the three regional tournaments this weekend for $99,000 overall. Overall, more than $130,000 in scholarships were awarded last year when combined with the state meet, the association reported.

It's amazing how fast the THSBA has grown, from six high schools and 20 two-person teams to hundreds of them and division tournaments with — on average — 120 boats in the water.

It's more than likely, Palestine — along with Frankston, Oakwood and Elkhart — will remain in the East Division. Cayuga has been fishing out of the Central Division.

The THSBA still has yet to make a determination on placing any of the remaining non-Metroplex member schools in specific divisions, too.

However, the 2018-19 schedule has been released — and there's a little bit more variety — as local boys will fish Lake Tyler and Titus County Freshwater Supply No. 1 (Lake Bob Sandlin) near Mount Pleasant.

Only once during the East Division regular season will anglers compete at Lake Palestine (with Bullard High School serving as the event host). That meet is scheduled for late October.

However, the regional meet also will take place at Lake Palestine in April 2019.

The Central Division has plenty of spectacular bodies of water for anglers — at Ray Hubbard, Richland-Chambers Reservoir, Lake Fork and Lake Tawakoni.

The regional meet will be at Ray Hubbard with Rowlett High School as the host.

The 2019 THSBA state championship is scheduled for Cedar Creek Lake, with Athens High School playing the role of tournament host.

This year's regional tournament is set for April 14 at Toledo Bend in Hemphill. Teams may practice this coming April 13. The weigh-in site will be Fin & Feather Resort.

Mason reported he's expecting more boys to fish next year — with an influx of current Palestine Junior High School eighth-graders. However, Luke Harris, Caleb Harris and Jordin Matthews will be lost to graduation.

Editor's Note: There will be a full regional tournament preview in the Friday edition of the Palestine Herald-Press.

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