MANY, La. — Jack Varnado and Hunter Robertson were the first anglers to weigh-in and they were the last ones standing at the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster Junior Series tournament held Sunday on Toledo Bend Reservoir.
Editor's note: See weigh-in photos.
Varnado and Robertson started the weigh-in with a five-bass limit of 10 pounds, 15 ounces. Then they watched from the hot seats as every other tandem in the tournament failed to top their total.
The boys fish with the Junior Southwest Bassmasters of Denham Springs, La., and have partnered in local tournaments for three years. They won $217 for their club with the win at Toledo Bend, and also earned a spot in the Bassmaster Junior Series National Championship later this year.
Varnado, an 11-year old sixth grader, caught a 3-3 bass on his sixth cast in the one-day tournament. It was a solid start to a dreary day, and it buoyed the boys’ confidence. They had a limit in the livewell soon after, and were able to cull four times later that afternoon.
“I caught (the 3-3) on a Red Bug Shaky Head worm,” Varnado said. “We were fishing 21 feet deep, but there was a ledge that dropped off and that’s where we found them.”
Robertson, a 12-year old seventh grader, added a quality 2 1/2-pound bass to the limit, and that catch came on a Red Bug Shaky Head, as well. He also hooked what boat captain (and Jack’s dad) Chad Varnado estimated to be an 8-pounder, but it swam underneath the boat and slipped off the line.
It was a stroke of misfortune for Robertson, but the elder Varnado said the boys fished well all day.
“That was the only fish they hooked that they didn’t put in the boat,” the elder Varnado said. “They had 10 bites and nine keepers. I’m very proud of both of them.”
Gage Dowers and Grant Williams of the Southwest Louisiana Junior Anglers finished second with a limit that weighed 7-2. Aiden King and Dawson Bryant of the Shelby County (Ala.) Junior Anglers placed third with two bass that totaled 5-1.
The Top 4 teams earned cash prizes for their clubs. King and Bryant earned an extra $100 for Shelby County for weighing the big bass of the day (3-8).
The tournament was presented by the Louisiana Office of Tourism, Toledo Bend Lake Country, the Sabine River Authority, Desoto Parish Tourist Commission and the Vernon Parish Tourist Commission.