When B.A.S.S. Junior World Championship qualifier Trevor Ladner says his friends believe he fishes too much, he knows that’s saying something.
“I have a lot of friends, and I can’t think of any who don’t fish at all — hey, this is Mississippi,” he said.
“This,” in fact, is southern Mississippi. Ladner lives in a tiny town called Necaise Crossing. Here, in the far reaches of Hancock County, fishing, hunting and the outdoors are woven into everyday life. It’s just that in Ladner’s life, the weave is tight.
Sure, he has other interests. He plays drums in a Southern-rock/country band, The Back Porch. Age 18 and a high school senior, he is looking at colleges where he can study civil engineering. But he admits the college also needs to have a strong bass fishing team. He’s active in the Jourdan River Bassmasters Club. He’s on the water three to four times a week.
The exception is this week because he is packing for the Nov. 5 championship. He won the right to represent the Central Division in his age group, 15-18, by persevering through three qualifying events: a club tournament, the state championship and a divisional, a playoff of sorts.
2011 will be his first Junior World Championship. He almost made it in 2010, but he was knocked out in the final round. This year, his staying power through the divisional paid off.
“I’ve worked for this for years,” said the owner of three junior-level state champ titles.
The Junior World Championship will take place in conjunction with the Nov. 3-5 B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Championship in Monroe, La. While the adults compete their final day on the Ouachita River, the Junior World anglers will be on nearby Bayou DeSiard.
The young competitors from across the nation will be driven by volunteer boat captains who are not allowed to help with the catching of bass. In each boat will be one competitor in the 11-14 age group, and a second in the 15-18 age division. After one day, the anglers in each age group with the heaviest five-fish bags will receive scholarships to be put toward their education.
Ladner checked out Bayou DeSiard before the official off-limits period began. Bass fishing in the bayou will be a good test of the JWC field, he said.
“Whoever can put five fish in the boat will win,” he said. “It was that tough when I saw it. But temperatures are changing, so the bass will too. We’ll just have to see.”
Fishing fans can meet all of the Junior World competitors at Bassmaster.com. On Nov. 5, when the JWC competitors cross the stage just before their adult counterparts, one in each age group will be crowned the 2012 champ. Fans can follow along with a free, downloadable scorecard.