Mother Nature smiled on the Missouri – The Bass Federation (TBF) and the TBF Student Angler Federation as they hosted their first joint Student Angler Federation (SAF) High School and Junior Angler State Championship on Sunday, March 17th at Lake of the Ozarks. Again for 2019 the TBF partnered with National Youth Fishing Association (NYFA) to host the event which allowed a huge field of 270 High School teams along with 54 Junior teams to enjoy some beautiful early spring weather. The morning started out brisk, the bright sun, clear skies and light winds allowed the anglers to quickly warm up with the first nice spring weekend of the season with high temps topping out near 60 degrees. While the weather for the event was nice, the long cold winter was not conducive to good fishing with water temps still in the low 40’s. The rapid warm up along with thawing snow and rain muddied up the normally clear Ozark impoundment adding even more challenge for the anglers. While fishing was tough, most anglers agreed that a tough day on the water was still nicer than a good day at school!
The new joint format meant that there were over 320 boats to launch from the PB-2 Marina which required organization and the cooperation of all the participants. High School Teams representing all corners of the state were sent out first at approximately 7:00 AM in multiple flights, with the first flight due back at 3:00 PM. The Junior Anglers were sent out last with the last boat leaving the cove at 8:05 AM, a testament to the TBF and NYFA staff. The Junior Anglers were also flighted with the first group due back at 2:00 PM, which hampered their chances at the improving afternoon bite. The Junior Anglers now follow the same format as the SAF High School teams with a 2-person team and a standing boat captain from their school. This format has proven popular with the SAF across the country and provides each young angler with the opportunity to relax and compete with a familiar partner and adult. Fishing is the only sport where youth with disabilities can compete on a level playing field with other students and we were extremely proud to have several competitors join us for this event.
This was the second year in a row with record turn-out for this event! This represents the largest SAF High School event in the country and one of the largest Junior Angler events. While the participation level is a clear sign of the enthusiasm for youth fishing it simply couldn’t happen without the help of so many fine sponsors. The countless hours of work necessary to put on an event of this size is hard to imagine unless you have seen it. J.P. Sells and the NYFA staff along with Joey and Karen from the SAF national office did the heavy lifting and you will not find a finer group of folks dedicated full-time to mentoring young through our sport of bass fishing. with help from local Missouri TBF volunteers. Events like this are not possible without the generous support of our corporate sponsors such as Ranger Boats, Lowrance, Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, Booyah, Berkley, Evinrude, St. Croix, Lew’s, Favorite Fishing, Motorguide, Eagle Claw, Okuma, Rapala, Sufix Line, VMC Hooks, LiveTarget, MoveU Apparel, Fishouflage, Strike King, Faculty OF Fishing, Pursuit TV and of course FLW. Local support from vendors and the Missouri TBF was also critical with special thanks to Tom Kaufmann, Chris Dougan, Karl Buck, Richard Winchester and Tom McGovern along with the staff at PB-2 Marina. Finally, a thank you to J.P. and the members of Missouri TBF that made sure that every student, regardless of financial situation or physical capabilities, got an opportunity to fish and enjoy this spectacular event.
SAF Missouri High School State Championship
Landing at the top of the field was the team of Colin Ames and Rider Hall from Bolivar High School who scratched out 5 keepers on a very tough day for 15.78 pounds. The margin of their victory was provided by a 5.80 lunker that distanced themselves from the only other 2 teams with 5 fish limits. They caught their fish early on a bone colored Rick Clunn Jerkbait up the Gravois in about 9 feet of water. The clearer and slightly warmer water (43 degrees) allowed them to catch fish both early as well as later after the sun warmed the water. They want to thank their boat captain as well as their sponsors, Denali Rods, Lew’ Reels and Marine Repair in Carter.
Second place belonged to the team of Jackson Stephens and Jake Lange from Lindbergh High School. One of the few teams with 5 fish limits, they threw both a Ned rig (PBJ color) along with a Rage Swimmer swimbait to fill out their sack. One of the few teams with action all day they caught over a dozen fish by focusing on the 10-15’ depth range and looked for cleaner water (2-3 foot visibility) to concentrate the fish.
Third place went to the familiar team of River Clunn and Zack Pierce from Ava High School. This team finished strong at the first championship last year in similarly cold conditions, proving their ability to figure out the finicky early spring bite. Their bag totaled only 3 fish, but the quality was right, weighing in at 11.01. They proved their determination by fishing hard to the end with their 2 big bites, including a 5.62-pound lunker, coming after 3:00 o’clock. Not surprisingly their fish came on a Rick Clunn 1.5 square bill in River Red on chunk rock banks. They found these quality fish in warmer, dirty water with only 6-12 inch visibility.
On the High School side big bass honors went to Brady House and Justin McCarthy of Nixa with an early spring female weighing in at 6.59 pounds. As mentioned above, 2nd big bass went to our winning team from Bolivar, while the third place went to our third place-team from Ava. The amazing turnout for this event allows Missouri to send the top 27 teams to the SAF National Championship this summer at Pickwick Lake! There contestants will not just be competing for a national title but also for scholarships and prizes such as laptops, gift cards, big screen TV’s, rods/reels and more. Check out our website to register and learn more at: www.highschoolfishing.org/2018-high-school-fishing-world-finals-and-national-championship-combined-event/. Here is the list of your qualifiers:
|COLIN AMES-RYDER HALL
|JACKSON STEPHENS-JAKE LANGE
|RIVER CLUNN-ZACK PIERCE
|PAYTON SAPP-GAGE ERICKSON
|CALEB MCCULLOUGH-DUANE ERICKSON
|CHASE JONES-BRAYDEN HILTON
|CARTER FLETCHER-JESSIE ANTHONYSZ
|JOHN HUBBERT-ANDREW JOHNSON
|BRITTEN DOVER-ANDREW FLOOD
|GRANT CORNELISON-JAMES SHOCKLEY
|DREW CROSBY-AARON WILSON
|BEAU BONDURANT-CARSON BRAUNER
|HUNTER WILLIAMS-LOGAN CLIFFORD
|ZACH BONDURANT-SPENCER MERTENS
|KYRAN HEPKO-BROCK PEARCE
|BLAKE BEHITER-SAM WEBERT
|BRADY HOUSE-JUSTIN MCCARTHY
|JASON TINKER-J J
|QUINTON HOPPER-COLT BURNHAM
|IAN BAREIS-NATHAN JONES
|LUCAS LEAZOTT-ABRAM STAMPER
|COLE GODWIN-CALEB SHIELDS
|ETHAN HERIGON-DREW DISTLER
|CALEB WELCH-NATHAN YOUNG
|SKYLER COMMONS-GABRIEL COMMONS
|DEREK HESS-JOSIAH HILL
|DAKOTA STALLWORTH-CALEB BRAKE
Missouri TBF Junior Angler State Championship
The Junior Angler was led by the pair of Mathew Malmstron and Mason Geisler from Helias Catholic School in Jefferson City. Sacking 4 fish for 7.98 pounds they easily outdistanced the field in number and total weight. What was even impressive than their catch was the fact that this came in their first ever tournament against a very large field of boats, what a way to start a career in tournament bass fishing! A white shad jerkbait produced their consistent bite on what proved to be a tough day for all our younger anglers. They would like to send a big thank you to their sponsors and their boat captain for helping them make this a very special day.
Finishing second in our Junior division was the team of Levi Fredrickson and Landon Flood from Hurley with 2 fish for 6.56 pounds. Their sack was anchored by the Junior Big Bass of 4.91 pounds and which was caught on a French Pearl Jerkbait. Rounding out the top three was Ely Tolliver and Bryce Koll of Lincoln High School. They had 2 fish and finished just out of second with a weight of 6.51 pounds. Like most other teams they found the jerkbait to be the most productive lure throughout the day.
Our Junior anglers proved they had a tough challenge on Lake of the Ozarks with the cold, dirty water with only 25% of the field weighing a keeper bass. The later start along with the early check-in meant they missed the most productive bites of the day so they should be proud of their efforts regardless of the results. As the top team, Malmstron and Geisler are now qualified to represent Missouri at the TBF Junior Angler World Championship in Arkansas this August. This event is scheduled to coincide with the Forrest Wood Cup to give the young anglers access to the FLW Expo and a chance to trade fishing secrets with some of the FLW pros. It’s a great event for the kids and an exciting opportunity for family and friends to support their team while also seeing the worlds best pros in action.
|MATHEW MALMSTRON-MASON GEISLER
|LEVI FREDRICKSON-LANDON FLOOD
|ELY TOLLIVER-BRYCE KOLL
|ZACH VENTIMIGLIA-AUSTIN COFFMAN
|ZACH HOLTMEYER-TREY STRUEMPH
|RACE CLEMENTS-LOGAN BLISS
|MASON DUNN-CAYSEN YOUNGBLOOD
|CARTER WEBSTER-KOLEMAN KAISER
|JACKSON MAILS-CARTER LILLESKAU
|DIERKS BECK-IZAAC SWEET
The Missouri TBF would like to thank all the anglers, boat captains, parents and volunteers for their support and cooperation. These young anglers represent the future of our sport and the guardians of this resource and their sportsmanship should make us all very confident in our future.