Roseville bass-fishing duo headed to make fish tales in Alabama


Zach Schiller and Jack Wallish, a bass-fishing team from Roseville, with their fourth-place catch at the June 3 Fishing League Worldwide High School Fishing Minnesota Open in Wabasha. That strong finish qualified them for the 2017 High School Fishing World Finals in Alabama. They’re headed there for the tournament’s June 27 start. photo courtesy of Jay Wallish

Riding along in a car on a recent afternoon after school, Zach Schiller and Jack Wallish, both 16, pass the phone back and forth to discuss their recent fishing exploits.

Neither half of the bass-fishing duo from Roseville Area High School will say which fisherman is better — both say they pick up things from each other — though there’s plenty of proof they’re pretty good together.

Wallish and Schiller are headed to Florence, Alabama, to fish Lake Pickwick in the 2017 High School Fishing World Finals June 27 to July 1. There, they’ll compete for a purse of scholarships and prizes valued at more than $75,000.

Both Roseville residents are low-key about their expectations.

“We don’t have any other special plans — we’re just looking forward to the experience,” Wallish says. Adds Schiller, “I think it’s just going to be fun, even if the tournament doesn’t go too well.”

Wallish’s father, Jay, offers a slightly different assessment of the upcoming trip.

“They will be in Alabama competing against the country,” he says, “and it’s big-time stuff for us bass fisherman guys.”

 

Fourth out of 44

The duo’s trip south comes on the heels of Wallish and Schiller’s strongest finish yet. 

At the Fishing League Worldwide High School Fishing Minnesota Open in Wabasha on the Mississippi River June 3, Wallish and Schiller took fourth place out of 44 boats, qualifying for the Lake Pickwick event.

Wallish says they went into the June 3 tournament with low expectations. They’d fished the spot a week prior, and he says, “long story short, we had a really bad day.” Short story, even shorter: they caught one fish.

Wallish says he and Schiller, along with their boat captain, RAHS grad Kaleb Seeger, fished new waters for the Minnesota Open, and as Wallish puts it, “We just managed to pull in a good bag.”

They finished only behind teams from Plainview-Elgin-Millville, Lakeville and Steven’s Point, Wisconsin, catching five fish weighing in at 13 pounds, 2 ounces.

During fishing tournaments, which are catch-and-release, Wallish says teams are given an allotted amount of time on the water. Boats will launch typically at 6 a.m. and come back in at 2 p.m., with each team keeping its five biggest and heaviest fish. The day ends with a weigh-in.

“We finish usually in the top area,” Wallish says. “We’re not usually dead last, but this is definitely the best we’ve done.”

 

‘It’s always fun’

Minnesota has long been dominated by walleye fishing, but Jay says high school bass fishing is catching on.

A handful of years ago, he says, there were about 50 teams in the state, and nowadays, there are more than 200. Forest Lake has more than a dozen teams; Brainerd has more than 30.

Jay says he grew up fishing for bass in Michigan and passed the passion onto his son.

“I started actually fishing for bass around kindergarten,” Wallish says. Says Jay, “He got his first fishing pole when he was 2 but he doesn’t know it.”

Schiller says he and Wallish have known each other since grade school, and played hockey and lacrosse together. How did they team up to fish for bass?

“We kind of just figured out we both like fishing,” Wallish says, adding they’ve been doing it competitively for a couple of years.

Schiller and Wallish say they do it for the love, even if, as Jay says, tournament conditions can be “brutal.” Neither high wind nor heat will end a tournament, only lightning, he says.

“It’s a great thing to do for more than just fun,” Wallish says. “It’s great to do competitions and just getting outside is great.”

Schiller echoes his partner’s sentiments.

“It’s always fun being out with Jack and Kaleb,” he says, “it’s always a good experience.”

 

Mike Munzenrider can be reached at mmunzenrider@lillienews.com or 651-748-7813. 

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