TAVARES, Fla. — For 18-year-old Jake Cook, bass fishing is all about looking for something different.
"Look for something out of the ordinary on the lake, something that other anglers aren't focusing on and somewhere where the fish can find food," says Cook. "That's what I did today. The lake had lots of shallow areas, so I found a spot that was 11 to 12 feet deep with submerged trees."
And there, Cook found 13 pounds, 1 ounce — more than twice as much as his nearest competitor. He won the 15- to 18-year-old age division of the 2009 Junior Bassmaster World Championship (JWC) on Lake Yale. Because his state B.A.S.S. Federation Nation chapter (Washington) is an Alliance state, he won a brand new Triton boat, as did Danny Sprague from Michigan, who took second place in the younger division.
Sharing the spotlight with Cook today was John Duarte Jr., a 14-year-old from Baltimore, Md. Duarte, who took fifth place in the 2009 Bassmaster CastingKids Championship held earlier in the day, relied on frogs to help him catch 5 pounds even — enough to win the 11- to 14-year-old division of the JWC.
Duarte found lots of bass that would strike frogs yesterday in practice, but when the skies clouded up today, he couldn't get them to bite. "I tried flipping a beaver-type bait and caught one bass. Later, when the sun came out a little more, I was able to get them to bite a frog. I caught three of my keepers on a frog."
Duarte's frog was a Stanley Ribbit fished on 65-pound McCoy Mean Green braid, using a 6 1/2-foot heavy Kistler Helium LTX rod and a Shimano Chronarch reel. When he was flipping, he moved up to a 6 3/4-foot Kistler rod and flipped a J.C.'s Lures beaver rigged with a J.C.'s Lures tungsten weight.
Both Duarte and Cook were nervous before weigh-in that a couple of big fish that they lost were going to cost them. Cook lost a 4-pounder at the boat today, and another 5-pounder jumped off before he got it up to the boat. Duarte lost a 2-pounder on his very last cast of the day. "I just didn't get a good hook set," he explains. As it turns out, neither of them needed the extra weight to best the rest of the field.
Cook caught most of his fish on a Bomber Fat Free Shad in citrus shad pattern, fished on a Wright & McGill Skeet Reese Cranking Rod with an Abu Garcia Revo Reel and 20-pound McCoy Mean Green braid.
"I fancast the crankbait to find the piles, drag it over the tops of the trees and they'd usually slam it," he says. "It was mainly a crank reaction. Then the one bite would trigger more bites and get it all started. I had to wait 45 minutes to an hour for my first bite today."
Once he riled the fish up, he'd throw a Strike King Rage Tail Anaconda on a St. Croix Mojo Bass rod to catch the other bass in the area. He also relied on a Bass Pro Shops Extreme Reel and Stren Sonic Braid.
Cook and Duarte both say they hope to be professional bass fishermen one day. Cook, who attends Columbia Basin College in Kennewick, Wash., also plans to become a police officer.
"These kids are excellent anglers," says Stacy Twiggs, senior manager, B.A.S.S. Federation Nation youth, referring to all 12 of the kids in today's competition. Cook's boat captain, Glenn Pilkinton, echoed the same sentiments about Cook and his younger partner, Nick Jakobi. "They are awesome anglers," he says, "just unbelievable."
2009 JUNIOR BASSMASTER WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
TAVARES, FL — OCT. 30, 2009
|Rank||Name||From||Fish Caught||Final Weight|
|1||Jake Cook||Kennewick, WA||5||13-1|
|2||Craig Conger||St. Peters, MO||5||6-7|
|3||Frank Appaluccio||Sparta, NJ||4||5-14|
|4||Ross Burns||Columbia, SC||4||5-13|
|5||Jake Sasnowski||Bowmanville, ON||1||1-6|
|6||Cody Harris||Grand Blanc, MI||0||0-0|