Autistic angler headed to National Championship for juniors in bass fishing

Autistic angler Robbie “Goose” Henderson is headed to the National Championship for juniors of the National Bass Fishing Trail.

SHARE Autistic angler headed to National Championship for juniors in bass fishing
Autistic angler Robbie “Goose” Henderson shows how far he has come in bass fishing with a big largemouth bass.

Autistic angler Robbie “Goose” Henderson shows how far he has come in bass fishing with a big largemouth bass.

Provided

When a counselor doing an Individualized Education Program for Robbie “Goose” Henderson asked what his aspirations were, he said, “Fishing and engineering.”

Fishing makes sense for the autistic angler. Henderson, a freshman at Lake Zurich High School, is ranked sixth nationally among junior anglers on the National Bass Fishing Trail and headed to the National Championship in June on Lake Hartwell in South Carolina.

But engineering?

Of course, “so that he could engineer the baits.”

He plans on carving baits and has talked with people who paint baits.

He has his own Goose Pumpkin Swamp, sort of a motor oil orange, blue and silver with black flakes.

“I like bright colors on crankbaits,” Goose said. “Topwaters, I don’t care.”

Fishing topwaters is his favorite style of fishing, but he is adept in all forms of fishing, slow to fast.

About that nickname.

“When I was young, my uncle said I was silly as a goose,” Goose said.

“And it stuck with him,” his father Jeff said.

Goose said his dad started him fishing when he was 3.

Autistic angler Robbie “Goose” Henderson started fishing when young as he shows with this small largemouth bass. Provided photo

Autistic angler Robbie “Goose” Henderson started fishing when young as he shows with this small largemouth bass.

Provided

“I grew up fishing with grandfather,” Jeff said. “When he passed away, I lost interest in fishing. Met my wife [Lisa] and her whole family fished.”

When Goose was on the way, Jeff reached out to Zebco and its first-time reel program.

“We got back from vacation and Zebco had sent it before he was even born,” Jeff said. “I hung it up in his room. We still have it downstairs on the wall.”

The progression of autistic angler Robbie “Goose” Henderson in fishing was evident early. Provided photo

The progression of autistic angler Robbie “Goose” Henderson in fishing was evident early.

Provided

Asked about autism, Goose said, “Just part of who I am. Yeah. I want to inspire people to not stop.”

“Just because have a disability, you can overcome things,” Jeff said.

Goose who falls on the high end of the autism spectrum, was diagnosed in sixth grade. Jeff said when Goose was young, teachers knew something was different and suggested testing. Tests came back ADHD and medication was prescribed. But one teacher strongly suggested testing for autism.

“Doctor gave him a battery of tests, like 16 hours,” Jeff said. “On Christmas break, we took him off all his [ADHD] meds.

“He has come to terms with it. He understands and knows who is. If someone asks about it, he talks about it. That is what he is.”

Asked where he sees himself in 10 years, Goose said, “Bass fishing.”

Specifically, Major League Fishing, as he put it, “I want to go with the top anglers.”

When Goose decided to try tournament fishing, Jeff asked Violet Talley, a photographer/designer and tournament bass angler. She suggested NBT Junior Program because it is not quite as cutthroat. Talley was the adult boat driver on Goose’s first couple tournaments.

In the tournaments, Goose fishes with an adult captain.

“I sit and take videos and talk to the guy,” Jeff said.

This year, he acquired a 1992 bass boat, currently in Mississippi, where work is being done by a sponsor, PTG Outdoors.

“It’s going to be wrapped in the autistic puzzle pieces,” Jeff said.

Anyone who makes a donation may have their name or company on a piece.

It fits.

There’s a fundraiser for expenses going to and at nationals set for 5-9 p.m. April 29 at Musky Tales in Antioch. It’s $10 person, which includes a steadily building raffle, entry and a buffet (it’s a cash bar). A top raffle item is a two-day stay at a BnB in New Orleans. Word just came that Steve Trout will attend. He knew the walleye pro that took Goose on regionals.

Contact Jeff Henderson at goosefishing@yahoo.com about tickets or with raffle donations.

Autistic angler Robbie “Goose” Henderson shows he mastered more than bass in fishing with this muskie from northern Wisconsin.

Autistic angler Robbie “Goose” Henderson shows he mastered more than bass in fishing with this muskie from northern Wisconsin. Provided photo

The Latest
Three women and a man were shot at 119th Street and Michigan Avenue in West Pullman about 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
With four straight double-doubles, Reese is the only rookie so far this season to eclipse 100 points and 100 rebounds.
A severe thunderstorm watch was issued through 10 p.m. in Kankakee, Grundy and Will counties.
Lori Lightfoot, who graduated from the University of Michigan in 1988, will be joining the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy in Ann Arbor as a visiting professor. After leaving City Hall, Lightfoot held a fellowship at Harvard.
He’s aware of trade rumors, says an extension hasn’t been discussed with the Sox.