SAVANNA, Ill. — Junior Bassmasters will probably learn more about fishing the Mississippi River this week during the Cabela’s B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Northern Divisional than Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer ever knew about their home waters.
“That is what is cool about these tournaments is you get to fish a lot of different bodies of water so you get a little mix of everything,” said Danny Sprague, who finished second in 11- to 14-year-olds age division of the 2009 Junior Bassmaster World Championship (JWC). “We don’t have a whole lot of rivers in Michigan like the Mississippi. So it is a real cool experience getting to come and try something new.”
The Junior Michigan Bass Busters club member will compete in the 15-18 age group in this year’s divisional. He admits practice has been tough this week as he adjusts to dirty water and the daily movements of bass in the river, which he never experiences on the clear waters of the natural inland lakes he normally fishes back home. “I didn’t have a whole lot of experience trying to do some of this (river) stuff so I really didn’t jump right into all the fish, but I did find some water that is familiar to me and I started to figure them out a little bit,” he said. “If I can get anywhere from 10 to 12 pounds I will be sitting pretty well in the tournament.”
Both juniors from the host Illinois team are also fishing the river for the first time. Off The Hook Junior Bassmasters club member Aaron Ellerbrock usually fishes small lakes and ponds back home, but he has found the river to his liking since it has lots or grass and rocks to flip. Ellerbrock guesses a five-fish limit will be needed to win the 11-14 age group.
Sixteen-year-old Mike Lowry is also a member of the Off The Hook Junior Bassmasters who is learning the traits of the river. “It is a big adjustment for me fishing current and stuff,” said Lowry. The Illinois teen estimates it will take 9 to 12 pounds to win the 15-18 age division.
The juniors will take off with their boat captains for their day of competition after the adult Northern Divisional anglers launch Friday morning at the Savanna Marina.