SYRACUSE, N.Y. — On Saturday, youth from around the country — and in some cases, from around the world — paired up with Bassmaster Elite Series pros for a sunny day of fun and fishing practice, in preparation for tomorrow's fifth annual Junior Bassmaster World Championship.
But as the summertime fishing on Onondaga Lake concluded with the waning afternoon sun, thoughts began turning toward tomorrow's competition for a $23,000 scholarship package.
And with it, most anglers, young and old alike, were making sure their Gore-Tex rain slickers would be handy thanks to a National Weather Service forecast calling for an 80 percent chance of thunderstorms on Sunday.
Inclement weather or not, 93 junior anglers will descend on Onondaga to compete in a one-round JBWC tournament, comprised of two different age brackets: 11-14 and 15-18.
Fishing in less-than-ideal weather isn't something entirely new to these young competitors: Last year, South Africa's Jeffrey Toplis, then 14, and Kentucky's Kalem Tippett, then 17, both endured cold temperatures and uncomfortable wind chills on Alabama's Logan Martin Lake.
The reward for their foul-weather resistance and bass catching abilities? JWBC championship wins and scholarship money from their respective age divisions.
This year, while cold weather isn't in the forecast, rain is.
Either way, these young anglers are anticipating great fishing action for both smallmouth and largemouth bass.
Onondaga Lake, situated just outside the metro Syracuse area and south of sprawling Lake Ontario, is a 5-mile-long, 1-mile-wide gem of black bass fishing containing some 4.6-square miles of bass water.
While a number of youthful anglers are reportedly planning on following the Elite Series pro anglers' lead up the road at Oneida Lake by fishing for smallmouths early before targeting bigger largemouths later in the day — don't be surprised if bronzeback bass end up ruling the day.
One of the Elite Series pros who will be helping tomorrow's JWBC effort is Oklahoma's Edwin Evers, known as one of the top smallmouth bass fisherman on the tour.
"We had a lot of fun doing that last year," said Evers, a four-time BASS winner, about fishing with the JWBC anglers.
"Oh yeah, they are fun to watch," agreed legendary Florida tournament pro Shaw Grigsby, an eight-time winner on the BASS circuit.
"I get to go out (with the kids) and it will be fun watching it for a whole day."
Come rain or shine, the 2008 JWBC promises an adventure for all involved.