Fishing for a scholarship

Contributed photo

Cayla Albers shows off her 31-inch speckled trout caught in Nueces Bay back in July. Albers recently earned a $25,000 scholarship from the Texas CCA Star Teen tournament for taking first place with the fish.

FALLS CITY – Fishing can provide family fun and tasty eating. But for one local teenager here, fishing has helped pave the path to higher education.

Falls City seventh-grader Cayla Albers was recently named the winner of the Texas CCA Star Teen Middle Coast Division thanks to a speckled trout she landed back in July. The award comes with a $25,000 scholarship.

The fish weighed 8 pounds, 4 ounces, and measured 31 inches long when Cayla pulled it into her boat in the Nueces Bay. Her father, Keith Albers, said all he did was net the fish – Cayla did all the rest, right down to baiting her own hook.

“It’s considered a trophy fish. You get up into the 30s, 31s, 32s, there are very few of them caught. Especially by a young lady her age. That’s the fish of a lifetime,” Keith said.

While reeling it in, Cayla started to see just how big it was. As the fish got closer, her arms were getting very tired. But Cayla saw what was in the water and didn’t give up.

“My dad was on the side of me and I had a bite, so I set the hook and started reeling as fast as I could. I finally got it close to me and my dad was going to dip it to get it in the net, but he missed.”

Keith said he had a good idea this was going to be a trophy fish once he saw it jump.

“Sure as that thing hit the water, boom it blew up and I saw that fish come out,” he said.

Keith missed with the net on the second try, and Cayla was getting worried. But the third time proved to be the charm.

“The third time, he finally got it. My arms were tired. But I was happy,” Cayla said.

She and her father have been fishing together for as long as she can remember, Cayla said. It’s a family tradition for them.

“We started with her when she was five or six years old. She didn’t really have too much interest then. But once she got a little older and she could wade with me, we started taking her to more areas,” Keith said. “We bought her a pink rod and pink line. She had to have everything pink. She’s come a long ways catching her own fish and taking them off and everything.”

At the end of the tournament season, Cayla’s catch was the biggest fish on the leaderboard.

Keith and his wife, Tamyra, both say they’re proud of their daughter for her accomplishment.