Ladner, Bray take Junior titles at Central Divisional

KIMBERLING CITY, Mo. — Junior anglers put on an impressive performance on Day Three of the Central Divisional presented by Yamaha and Skeeter. Three boasted limits and several brought in three or four keepers from a productive Table Rock Lake.

But Mississippi’s Trevor Ladner was the most impressive, catching five bass that weighed 12-6 to win the title in the 15-18 age group. Louisiana’s Blake Betz had 11-2, Oklahoma’s Wyatt Smith 10-13 and Arkansas’ Ralston Lusby had 9-3, all weights that often are good enough to win in the one-day Junior competition.

In the 11-14 age group, Kansas’ Austin Bray won with 6-6, edging Missouri’s Colt Love by 3 ounces.

Ladner now will get his second opportunity to fish the Bassmaster Junior World Championship, while Bray will attend for the first time.

“I zeroed the first time,” Ladner said. “We had boat trouble.”

But the 17-year-old angler from Necaise Crossing had no such problems on Table Rock. He caught about 25 bass, he estimated, on a Scrounger (jighead with a plastic lip for use with soft plastics) and a Texas rig Senko in watermelon seed.

He fished the Scrounger in “trees with no limbs, places that were flooded.” And he threw the Senko in rocks and brush.

“I was culling by 10 o’clock,” said the young fisherman, who wanted to extend special thanks to Trophy Bass Taxidermy for its support.

Bray, a 15-year-old from McPherson, caught his bass by dragging a jig along pea gravel. “I tried a swimbait early, but nothing,” he said. “So I switched to the jig.”

Louisiana’s Betz, meanwhile, caught four of his five keepers on a jig and the other on a swimbait. “I lost two good ones,” he said.

Arkansas angler Lusby also used a jig. “I was throwing in 10 to 12 feet outside of flooded brush,” he explained.

Oklahoma’s Smith threw a Scrounger and a jig, while Missouri’s Love used a tube to catch his three keepers.

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