New waters for the youth competitors

BURLINGTON, N.J. — Citing safety reasons, B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Tournament Manager Jon Stewart announced Thursday evening that the site of the 2011 Junior Bassmaster Mid-Atlantic had been moved from the Delaware River to nearby Sylvan Lake.

Sylvan is a 12 acre, electric only body of water located a few minutes from the city of Burlington. It’s shaped much like a big Y, with a main trunk and two smaller offshoots. Local anglers say it offers excellent largemouth fishing. Seven pounders are rumored to have come from her waters. More to the point, however, it’s away from the rushing Delaware River.

“I fully support the decision made by B.A.S.S.,” said Jim Kline, Youth Director for the B.A.S.S. Maryland Federation Nation. “It’s definitely for the best safety wise. That’s why we have a backup plan. We wouldn’t want them on the Delaware when it’s in this condition.

“Sylvan Lake is small and protected. We can fish safely in this bad weather and still have fun. Who can complain? None of the kids had any practice time. It’s fair for everyone.”

That seemed to be the general consensus when Stewart made the formal announcement at the rules meeting. The kids, Youth Directors and parents in attendance accepted the change knowing that it was the only thing that could be done under the circumstances.

The kids might have been the happiest of all. Practice time was scarce. Several of the youth were concerned they hadn’t had enough time on the Delaware to get ready. Like all serious anglers they want to do their best and practice time is a part of that.

One of those happy kids is 12-year-old, Josh Stowe, a member of Kline’s team. He won both of his qualifying tournaments to earn the right to fish his first Divisional, and is a serious young man with a good stick. Nevertheless, when faced with a strong current, muddy water and trees bigger than his boat floating down the river he was disappointed.  

He tried to practice Thursday morning but when State president Roger Trageser heard about it Stowe and his partner were immediately pulled off the water. His total practice time amounted to about 10 minutes, most of which was spent fighting the current and snaking around drift.

“I think this (the move) is a good idea, definitely,” he said. “Besides, I heard there’s some good cover in there (Sylvan Lake). Not logs or anything like out in the river but good stuff to fish. I think there’ll be some big ones in there. I can’t wait to get started.”