Clewiston, Fla. — Lance Freeman hopes for a return trip to the Junior Bassmaster World Championship (JWC) to defend his title but he has to win the Cabela’s Federation Nation Junior Bassmaster Southern Divisional at Lake Okeechobee first. (View final standings)
The reigning JWC 15- to 18-year-olds age group champion is competing in his third divisional and is also aiming for his second straight divisional crown.
Last year he won the divisional in his home state of Kentucky, but this year he must fish the unfamiliar waters of Lake Okeechobee. Back home he usually catches bass deep with a big jig or deep diving crankbait at Kentucky Lake, but now he faces the challenge of catching heavyweight bass in the shallow vegetation.
“It’s two different worlds,” said Freeman. “I have practiced since about Sunday. I have had a couple of good days of practice and a couple of slow days. I have also had some of the biggest fish on that I have ever had on in my life.
“It’s going to be a matter of who gets those one or two good bites. I have been getting one big bite a day. I have one little area where I am catching prespawn, postspawn and spawn fish.”
The West Kentucky Junior Bassmasters club member also fishes adult tournaments including the Bassmaster Weekend Series events on Kentucky-Barkley. He has been in the Junior Bassmasters program since he was 12 years old.
The 16-year-old Freeman believes his time in the Juniors program has made him a better tournament angler. “I used to play basketball and baseball and run track; that competitive edge is what I really love,” he said. “I was okay in those sports. But I have been fishing since I was 2 years old and I love doing it and competing against kids my own age.”
Sixteen junior anglers will compete in the Southern Divisional Friday with two berths to the JWC at stake.