Last week I shared a tip from touring pro and bass superstar Brandon Palaniuk on his penchant for using extra-long leader lengths, and this week’s nugget of fishing insight comes from a pair of much younger yet equally hard-fishing bass fans who were competing in the TBF Junior World Championships on Lake Wateree, South Carolina. No matter your age or favorite species, I’m guessing you’ll enjoy it.
The two-day event pitted state champions from six divisions across the U.S. against one another in 11- to 14- and 15- to 18-year-old age groups. All were provided with free meals and lodging for themselves and their families, plus the use of a boat and volunteer boat driver, so it was a great chance for kids from all walks of life and financial backgrounds to compete on the level playing field of fishing.
While covering the event for FLW Outdoors .I interviewed the new national champs in each age group. Both provided pearls of wisdom worthy of anglers many years their senior.
Perry Marvin, a soft-spoken 15-year-old from Peru, New York, won top honors in the older age group. I loved what he had to say when I asked him about dealing with the pressure on day two, knowing that other anglers had sacked weights larger than his on day one, and were likely on better bites. “You can’t think about the other anglers,” he said. “You have to focus on your own fishing, not theirs, or it gets in your head.”
Marvin also revealed his persistence in trying to trigger a fish caught during practice into striking during the tournament. Seems he’d hooked a nice bass next to a downed tree and quickly released it while pre-fishing. “I went back on day one of the tournament and made 100 casts to that tree before it finally hit,” he grinned. He also tweaked his presentation more than once before scoring the payoff strike on a white ChatterBait and Keitech trailer.
Joe Stolski, who topped the 11- to 14-year-old age group, was also a study in persistence. After enduring a brutal bite on day one and entering the final round on a tiebreaker, the 14-year-old from Baxter, Minnesota, fished until 1:30 the second day without a bite. Undaunted, he kept his chin up and continued fishing hard. Then, with an hour to go before weigh-in, he felt a strange heaviness on the end of the line while bouncing a shaky-head jig and Zoom Trick Worm along a sunken ridgetop. The resistance turned out to be a 4-pound, 1-ounce bass big enough to earn him the victory and a $2,500 college scholarship.Next time you feel frustrated on the water, or worry that other anglers are catching more than you, remember these young guns and how they turned tough bites into world championship wins.