Division Champs Advance To Final Round Of 2017 TBF Junior World Championship
Camden, S.C.—Aug. 11, 2017—The Bass Federation’s 2017 Junior World Championship kicked off today on South Carolina’s Lake Wateree as the top junior anglers from 36 state federations around the country battled for berths in Saturday’s final round.
Timed to coincide with the FLW Forrest Wood Cup, which is currently running on nearby Lake Murray, the no-entry-fee Junior World Championship is open to youths ages 11 to 15 and offers more than $10,000 in prizes and scholarships.
Lake Wateree is well known for its largemouth bass fishery and scenery, but the 13,700-acre reservoir challenged the young contestants to dial in productive patterns amidst a backdrop of high water and mostly calm, overcast conditions.
To further test the field’s fishing skills, the day was shortened by a 1½-hour fog delay as tournament officials held take-off until it was safe to let the JWC armada head for the fishing grounds. Competitors were paired with another contestant and an adult boat captain, who piloted the boat but didn’t wet a line.
Competition was fierce, as only the top angler from each TBF division would advance to the finals for a shot at the national JWC crown.
Making his second JWC appearance, Jeremy Toler of Oceana, West Virginia, paced the pack with three bass for 7 pounds, 6 ounces. Toler topped the Mid-Atlantic Division and was excited to fish in the finals, though he acknowledged he had to grind out a long day to get there.
“It was really slow today, it’s a really tough bite,” Toler said. “I got all three of my fish around midday. Hopefully I can go back out and do it again tomorrow.”
Dalton Smith of Brandon, Mississippi, won the Central Division with two bass for 4 pounds, 14 ounces. He noted that his day started strong, then tapered off when conditions changed. “The first two hours I had three bites and two of them were keepers,” he said. “But when the sun came up and the wind started blowing it slowed down.”
A veteran competitor making his fourth JWC appearance, Smith was in great spirits and hoping a fast start tomorrow morning could fuel a run up the leaderboard. “I feel good,” he said. “I’m calm and relaxed. Tomorrow I think I can catch two or three keepers early and go from there.”
Syler Prince of Palatka, Florida, punched his golden ticket to the finals by besting the Southern Division with two bass for 4 pounds, 4 ounces. “Today went really well,” he said. “I didn’t miss any fish. I did what I wanted to do. I had the bites that I needed and I got it done.”
In the Western Division, Matagi Faavale of Coalville, Utah, advanced with one bass weighing 3 pounds, 1 ounce. “It feels great, this is my third year and first time getting this far,” he said. “The fishing was tough today, but I dug in deep. I missed a couple and got the last one.”
As for Saturday’s grand finale, Faavale may make a few minor tweaks, but overall plans to keep his strategy the same. “It’s going to be a tough game,” he predicts. “Whoever wins is going to deserve it.”
Reece Fisher of Westfield, Indiana, sacked a lone bass weighing 2 pounds, 2 ounces to win the Northern Division. “It feels pretty amazing,” he beamed seconds after walking off the TBF stage, which was ringed by a throng of cheering fans and family members.
“I can’t believe I actually won the division,” he continued. “I didn’t practice at all and had little in the way of a game plan going into today. I fell back on fishing woody cover similar to what I have back home in Indiana.”
While elated, Fisher wasn’t overly confident the pattern would carry him through day two. “I’m kinda nervous about tomorrow because I only had one bite,” he explained. “I’m going to change some things up. I’ll try to get a topwater bite going and focus on docks.”
Nicholas Frumkin of Lincoln, Massachusetts, topped his Eastern Division rivals with one bass weighing 1 pound, 14 ounces.
Though he claimed divisional honors, Frumkin felt his catch could have been even better. “It was pretty tough, I lost a couple fish,” he said. On the positive side, the ones that got away provided a plan of attack for the finals. “I’m going back to those spots and try to get the fish I missed,” he confided.
The action continues tomorrow at Clearwater Cove Marina, with take-off set for 6:30 a.m. and final weigh-in for 1:30 p.m. Weights will be zeroed, giving the entire field a fresh start in the finals. Adding to the excitement, at 4:30 p.m., all contestants will participate in a TBF Junior Champions’ parade across the FLW Forrest Wood Cup stage in Columbia.
The annual TBF Junior World Championship is produced by a partnership between The Bass Federation and FLW Outdoors. Sponsors include Cabela’s, Ranger Boats, Evinrude, Berkley, Lowrance, Power-Pole, Minn Kota and Humminbird.
For details, visit bassfederation.com or call TBF National Headquarters at (580) 765-9031.