HICKORY, N.C. — Khris Williams burst onto the tournament scene earlier this year when the North Carolina Junior Bassmasters hosted an event. The 13-year-old took second place even though it was his first tournament.
So he fished the next event as well, held on North Carolina's Lake James. Of the 15 participants, only four landed fish. Williams won the tournament.
Next up: Lake Hartwell, where Williams took third place. Three high finishes for three tournaments fished sounds a lot like Roland Martin's beginnings in 1970.That in itself is unique. What makes Williams exceptional is the fact that he's only 3 feet, 7 inches tall.Williams grew up fishing from a pond bank for catfish and panfish, but two years ago, after watching The Bassmaster Tournament Trail on ESPN2, he went to a weigh-in for a Bassmaster Tour event on Lake Norman."I was so excited watching the anglers catch all those bass," he said. "I told my mom, 'When I grow up, I want to catch bass and win money.'""Since then, he's been crazy about bass fishing," his stepfather told BASS Times.
Williams became determined to join a Junior Bassmaster club. He found Federation Nation President Bob Patrick's telephone number and discovered that Balls Creek Bassmasters was forming a new junior chapter."He called me himself," Patrick said. "That impressed me."The Williams family doesn't own a boat, but Balls Creek Bassmaster members quickly agreed to take the youngster out during the Junior Bassmaster tournaments.
Although he had yet to catch a bass, Williams was ready to hit the water in April for the club's first junior competition. North Carolina Federation Nation member, Glenn "Pop" Brindle said he was shocked when Williams began fishing.
"He can take a spinning rod and put a lure where you tell him. He can really cast," said Brindle. "He's just a joy!"
It was on that trip that the young Williams caught his first bass, which weighed 2.57 pounds."I was so excited, I was jumping up and down," he recalled.It was the only fish he caught that day, but it allowed him to rise above all but one of the other junior clubbers.Williams' excitement doesn't simply involve the fishing: Patrick said he's always the first child to show up for the monthly meetings.When you get him talking about fishing, it's hard to get him to stop," Patrick said with a chuckle.Brindle added that he is always trying to get back out on the water between tournaments."He is so excited to go fishing," he said.Williams is set to fish the state Junior Bassmaster tournament later this year, but he's got much bigger plans for the future."I want to be in the group where Kevin VanDam is," he said. "I want to buy a boat one day and be up on stage weighing my fish [as a pro]."
ED — To learn more about the Balls Creek Bassmasters Junior Club, call Curtis Barlowe at 704-462-2731.
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