Prince Reigns At 2017 TBF/FLW Junior World Championship
Camden, S.C.—Aug. 12, 2017—Syler Prince conquered a tough bite and hard-fishing field of the nation’s top youth anglers to win The Bass Federation’s 2017 Junior World Championship August 11-12 on South Carolina’s Lake Wateree.
The no-entry-fee event featured 11- to 15-year-old state champions from 36 state federations and offered more than $10,000 in prizes and scholarships.
On day one of the two-day event, which was timed to coincide with the FLW Forrest Wood Cup, held on nearby Lake Murray, the youths fished against anglers from their own TBF divisions for a chance to advance to Saturday’s final round. Competitors were paired with another contestant and an adult boat captain, who piloted the boat but didn’t fish.
Lake Wateree provided the perfect proving ground for the would-be Junior World Champions. The 13,700-acre reservoir offered plenty of elbow room and a variety of fish-holding cover and structure, ranging from shoreline vegetation to docks, bridges and offshore sweet spots. Adding to the challenge, the lake’s legendary largemouth bass population played uncharacteristically hard to catch.
Prince, of Palatka, Florida, started strong by winning the Southern Division with two bass for 4 pounds, 4 ounces. “Today went really well,” he said after the weigh-in. “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.”
The Mid-Atlantic Division’s Jeremy Toler of Oceana, West Virginia, sacked day one’s heaviest weight with three bass for 7 pounds, 6 ounces. Next was Dalton Smith of Brandon, Mississippi, who won the Central Division with two bass for 4 pounds, 14 ounces.
In the Western Division, Matagi Faavale of Coalville, Utah, advanced with one bass weighing 3 pounds, 1 ounce. Reece Fisher of Westfield, Indiana, landed a lone bass weighing 2 pounds, 2 ounces to win the Northern Division, while Nicholas Frumkin of Lincoln, Massachusetts, topped his Eastern Division rivals with one bass weighing 1 pound, 14 ounces.
Weights were zeroed on day two, giving all contestants a fresh start in the finals.
Prince threw a topwater popper along a seawall early in the day to pick up one bass, then targeted weedy main-lake banks on a softbait strategy that had carried him on day one.
“I tried other presentations, but it turned out flippin’ the grass was what I needed to do,” he said, explaining that his go-to rig included a green pumpkin-colored, crawdad-style bait with a ½-ounce tungsten weight, bobber stop, bead and a flippin’ hook.
“I put my head down and just kept fishing,” he added. “I basically never sat down except for the boat ride.”
The approach paid off with three more bass for a total weight of 8 pounds, 14 ounces—enough for Prince to claim the coveted JWC crown. “This is great, it feels awesome!” he said of the win, which earned him a $3,000 scholarship to the school of his choice.
Winning the national title is a major accomplishment, but Prince has no plans of resting on his laurels. In fact, he hopes the feat becomes a one of many memorable milestones in a much longer bass fishing career.
Currently in seventh grade, the talented 12-year-old looks forward to high school and collegiate fishing competitions. And considering that other TBF junior anglers have gone on to compete on the FLW Tour and in the FLW Forrest Wood Cup, Prince’s student angler achievements could be just the beginning.
Final official TBF standings for the division winners (listed with day-two catch) are:
- Syler Prince, Florida, Southern Division, 8 pounds, 14 ounces (4)
2. Jeremy Toler, West Virginia, Mid-Atlantic Division, 3 pounds, 10 ounces (2)
3. Nicholas Frumkin, Massachusetts, Eastern Division, 1 pound, 8 ounces (1)
4. Dalton Smith, Mississippi, Central Division, 0-0
5. Reece Fisher, Indiana, Northern Division, 0-0
6. Matagi Faavale, Utah, Western Division, 0-0
A total of 7 bass weighing 14 pounds came to the TBF scale at scenic Clearwater Cove Marina on day two and were released back into the Wateree system.
The JWC finale capped a week of prefishing and other fun activities for the competitors and their families. Adding to the excitement, all participants had the opportunity to 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.