Bass team battles through bitter cold and on board cameramen on their way to winning the state tournament


Kevin Berns

Mitch Geiser ’23, Danny Swallow ’24, and boat captain Jeff Geiser show off their winning catch at the 2023 TBF Student Angler Federation state tournament April 1.

The Bass Fishing Team, made up of senior Mitch Geiser, junior Danny Swallow and boat captain Jeff Geiser, won the 2023 TBF Student Angler Federation Championship at the Lake of the Ozarks April 1 in their first year competing as a team.

“I was super proud of their perseverance,” head coach and team coordinator Kevin Berns said. “They competed twice previously at Lake of the Ozarks with limited success. To see them get off the boat with a bag full of fish was an awesome sight.”

They won with a five bass total of 12 lbs and 13oz. Geiser said he caught over 20 fish in the tournament, including three of the keepers and the big bass weighing in at 4lb and 12oz.

“I didn’t think we had a chance to win until after we got to the weigh in,” Mitch said. “I was pumped when we did because Danny had never gotten to experience something like that. The best part of our day was when we ventured off our pattern we had been on. That was when we caught the 4lb fish and our final fish just minutes before having to weigh in.”

Danny caught that fifth and final bass that would put them over the top with one of the final casts of the day.

“We stayed focused for the [eight] hours we spent on the water,” Danny said. “And it paid off for us in the end. I was extremely surprised, not expecting to win. We knew it would be close.”

The team battled through bitter cold in the morning. They also had a cameraman aboard their boat, documenting their every move for a portion of the tournament.

“The camera guy seemed to bring some luck to the boat because I caught more than half of my fish when he was filming,” Mitch said. “The only stressful part was the last half hour, the bites slowed down and we could not find another keeper [until the end].”

For the win, Mitch and Danny earned a state championship trophy, a mystery tackle box, and a new reel.

They also earned the opportunity to compete in the 14th annual High School Fishing World Finals and National Championship in LaCrosse, Wisconsin on the week of June 20-24.

“Since the first tournament we had fished together,” Danny said. “I have really enjoyed fishing with Mitch as my partner and his dad is an extremely helpful boat captain.”

This was the third tournament Mr. Geiser captained for Mitch and Danny, using his own boat every step of the way. He has been a part of the program, offering advice on technique, gear and strategy, since the team began last August.

“I can’t thank our boat captain Jeff Geiser enough for stepping up and leading these guys through these tournaments,” Berns said. “He has given a ton of his time and experience to this team. They couldn’t have done it without him.”