Louisiana youth win Junior Bassmaster Competition

Louisiana’s Christopher Chandler (14), a proud member of the Jr. Southwest Bassmasters, has claimed the top prize in the 11-15 age group in the Junior Bassmaster Competition phase of the 2012 Cabela's B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Central Divisional.

The young angler dragged a Zoom Ultravibe Speed Craw through shallow water in Bayou Pigeon to collect three bass that tipped the scales at 5 pounds, 11 ounces. Like most of the anglers, he reported catching several short fish for every one that measured.

“I’m happy about winning,” Chandler said after his victory was announced. “I can’t wait to go to the Bassmaster Junior World Championship. I don’t know much about where we’re going, but I’ll try my best. I didn’t know much about the Atchafalaya Basin until about three days ago when my teammate, Blake Betz, showed me around. Maybe it’ll happen again.

“I want to make sure I thank everyone who helped me — my family, teammates, sponsors and all the adults who take the time to make sure we [youth] get to go bass fishing.”

Blake Betz (18), fishing in the 15-18 age group and a member of the Ascension Area Anglers, brought four bass to the scales that weighed a total of 7 pounds, 15 ounces to earn him a trip to the 2012 Bassmaster Junior World Championship.

His approach was to toss a 1/4-ounce Oldham jig — black, blue, purple — with a Zoom Ultravibe trailer into shallow water when his primary practice pattern failed to produce.

“This really means something to me,” Betz said, with a certain confidence. “I’m 18 years old, so this will be my last chance. I should have had more weight, but I lost a really good fish and missed a couple of others that felt good. It was kind of frustrating.

“I don’t know much about where we’re going but I have a buddy who knows something about it, so I’m looking forward to the 2012 Bassmaster Junior World Championship. I think I have enough time to get ready.”

The real story here might be that preparation and cooperation matter. Betz is local. He knows the water very well. And he wanted to win so badly that he fished 16 straight days before this event. But, at the same time, he was willing to take Chandler out for the three days Chandler had available to practice, shorting some of his own practice time in the process. It paid off for both of them.

Each youth competitor, regardless of where they finished in the tournament, received a $100 gift certificate from Cabela’s.

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