Ladysmith, Va. — One of Virginia's best junior anglers has begun his quest to become a touring pro.
Jelani Hennessey, 17, is the 2007 Junior Angler of the Year for Virginia as well as a three-time competitor in the Bassmaster Opens series.Hennessey started fishing when he was 4 years old and competed in his first tournament at the age of 8. He entered the Junior Bassmasters program when he joined the Black Hollow Anglers junior club at age 12 and is now a member of the Orange County High School Anglers club.This year, Hennessey took his first major leap toward a pro career by fishing as a co-angler in the Bassmaster Southern and Central Open circuits.
"I figured this is the next step to get some experience and see what I need to know to become a pro," explained Hennessey. He finished 53rd in the Southern Open on the St. Johns River; 79th in the Central Open on the Red River; and 104th in the Southern Open at Santee Cooper lakes."So far I think I have done OK," said Hennessey. "Every time I am out on the water, I learn something new. It is more challenging than the junior program because I am fishing behind these pros that have so much experience on the water, and I have to find a different way to catch a fish behind them."
Hennessey said his time in the Junior Bassmaster program has been an ideal springboard for achieving his goal of becoming a professional angler. "It taught me to be humble and helped develop my skills."
"Jelani has been a force in the junior angler program and has traveled across the entire state to participate in junior angler events," said Paul Thomson, Virginia B.A.S.S. Federation Nation youth director."He makes sure that the kids in his club who don't have poles get some and helps tie on their lures. He is a total team player."
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