LA CROSSE, Wis. — Several Bassmaster Elite Series pros watched young anglers weigh in their fish last Saturday and Sunday during the Wisconsin B.A.S.S. Nation Junior State Championship held on Pool 8 of the Mississippi River.
In all, 14 pros made an appearance at the host hotel or at one of the weigh-ins, said Jesse Heinecke, Wisconsin B.A.S.S. Nation (WBN) youth director. “The junior anglers got a huge kick out of that.”
Anglers in attendance included Rick Clunn, Bill Lowen, Chris Lane, Todd Faircloth, Scott Ashmore, Skeet Reese, Keith Poche, Marty Robinson, Josh Bertrand, Clifford Pirch, Davy Hite, Brent Chapman, Dennis Tietje and Cliff Crochet
Because B.A.S.S. was in town this week for the Elite Series, B.A.S.S. Nation Tournament Director Jon Stewart was on hand to emcee the junior championship and allowed the WBN to use the B.A.S.S. trailer for the junior weigh-ins.
Even though he had never fished at La Crosse before, Kyler Chelminiak of the Junior Brush Hogs club knew he had a chance to win the championship because he would have a chance to punch grass, his favorite style of fishing.
“After watching the Elites there last year and knowing how it is set up, with the southern half being full of grass, I knew it could be a great opportunity for me,” he said. Chelminiak won the 15- to 18-year-olds age division using a Paycheck Baits Punch Skirt to catch 10 bass weighing 23 pounds, 12 ounces. The runner-up in last year’s championship, Chelminiak is in his final year of the junior program and will join the fishing team at Bethel University in Tennessee next year.
Steve Niemi Jr. of the Waupaca Junior Bass Club topped the 11-14 age group with a two-day catch of seven bass weighing 16-7.
The championship also featured a 10-and-under age bracket, which ended in a tie with Sam Heinecke of the Indianhead Junior Bassers and Reece Keeney of the Waupaca Junior Bass Club both catching one keeper weighing 1-12.