RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. — Relying on their experience and knowledge of their home waters helped Jonny Schultz and Chase Myers win their age divisions in the Arkansas B.A.S.S. Nation Junior State Championship, April 28, at Lake Dardanelle.
The best 42 junior anglers in Arkansas were pounded by rain, wind and hail during the two practice days prior to the tournament. Roy Brunson, Arkansas B.A.S.S. Nation youth director, said there were numerous reports of 20-pound-plus limits from the soaked contestants during the two practice days. The young anglers also reported catching several fish weighing more than 8 pounds.
The competition day started with the same cloudy, windy conditions the contestants encountered during practice. Brunson said the youngsters caught fish in the early morning, but then the sun broke through the clouds for the first time that weekend and the day turned into a grind for most of the anglers.
Brunson said he believes the championship was a good testimonial on the quality of anglers the Arkansas Junior Bassmaster program has produced. “I am constantly impressed,” said Brunson. “It is amazing to see how much experience they have and their adaptability at the age of a lot of these kids.”
Despite boat problems in the early morning that forced them to switch to a backup boat, Schultz and Myers caught the top two heaviest five-fish limits as the Anvil Jaw Bassmasters won the championship and earned berths on the Arkansas state team for this week’s B.A.S.S. Nation Central Divisional at Sam Rayburn Lake in Texas.
Schultz caught his largest bass of the day, a 5.30-pound largemouth, just minutes after switching boats. He won the 15- to 18-year-olds age group with a 17.23-pound limit and became only the second Arkansas Nation junior angler to win two state championships. The Maumelle, Ark., teen is in his final year of the Junior Bassmaster program and is slated to be a member of the University of Arkansas fishing team this fall.
“Jonny started out in the CastingKids deal and has gone the whole way through the program,” Brunson said. Schultz won the Bassmaster CastingKids National Championship at the age of 8.
Myers captured the 11-14 age group title with a limit weighing 16.59 pounds. The Cabot, Ark., angler also caught the big bass of the tournament with a 5.63-pound largemouth. His 16.59 limit also set a championship weight record in the 11-14 age group.
Other Top 5 finishers in the 15-18 age group were Central Arkansas Junior Bassmaster Dayton, Taylor, who took second with 14.54 pounds; Corey Thompson, the 2011 champion of the 11-14 age group from the Smackover Junior Bass Club, 13.95 pounds; Chase Ramsey, Northwest Arkansas Junior Bassmasters, 12.90; and Cameron Nesterenko, Anvil Jaw Junior Bassmasters,10.94. Nesterenko also earned the big bass honors in the 15-18 age group with a 5.40-pounder.
Rounding out the Top 5 in the 11-14 age group were Nathan Barrow, Central Arkansas Junior Bassmasters, 13.32 pounds; Mason Autrey, Smackover Junior Bass Club, 12.71; Haden Hagood, Harrison Junior Bass Club, 10.17; and Trevor Brunson, Northwest Arkansas Junior Bassmasters, 9.72.