ZAVALLA, Texas — The Junior Bassmaster competition of the B.A.S.S. Nation Central Divisional is the last hurrah for a longtime member of the junior program.
Arkansas’ Jonny Schultz won his first Bassmasters CastingKids National Championship when he was 8 years old and repeated the feat at age 14. He fished in the Bassmaster Junior World Championship (JWC) in 2007 and finished seventh. His junior accomplishments also include two state championships. So Schultz is a shining example of the type of person and angler the Junior Bassmasters program helps develop.
Competing in his final year as a junior angler, Schultz is grateful for the learning opportunities the Junior Bassmaster program has given him. “I have been able to fish a lot more. I have learned tactics and developed strategies myself and learned through trial-and-error. I lose a lot more than I win and that has really helped me grow as a person mentally and made me a lot stronger fisherman because I can learn from my mistakes.”
The former CastingKids champ now helps other youngsters during CastingKids contests in his home state. “I really just want to give back to the Junior Bassmaster program which has given me so much and I think (CastingKids) is a great way to get kids into fishing and keep them out of bad habits.”
Schultz hopes to return to the JWC this year but he will be trying to qualify on unfamiliar waters. “This is my first time fishing in Texas,” he said. “Practice has really gone well the past couple of days. I have had limits the last three days. I really haven’t hit the same spot twice. I catch a couple of fish and then leave so I can save it for the tournament.”
“I am really excited,” said Schultz. “I feel real confident.” The competition will be stiff for Schultz though in the 15-18 age group as he will have to square off against Nebraska’s Brad Schaefer, a former JWC qualifier and seven-time divisional competitor; Kansas’ Nick Luna and Missouri’s Brian Pahl, who have both appeared in the JWC and four divisionals; and Trevor Yates, a three-time divisional qualifier from Oklahoma.