Lake Holcombe, Wis.—The turnout for the Wisconsin B.A.S.S. Nation State High School and Junior Team Championship proved the state’s youth program is growing rapidly.The tournament held June 11-12 on Lake Holcombe drew more than 100 high school and junior anglers. “We had a great event,” said Jesse Heinecke, Wisconsin Nation youth director. “I was hoping to double (the turnout) and we went well beyond that. We went from 10 high school teams to 28 in one year. The junior event went from four teams to 10 as well.”
High school anglers from throughout the state competed in the event with the largest contingent of teams coming from the west central region, according to Heinecke. The youth director noted several of the junior teams were from the Green Bay area.
Despite encountering tough postspawn conditions, St. Croix Central High School anglers Gavin Hessler and Tucker Nauss won the high school championship with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 22.43 pounds. They also weighed in the Day 1 Big Bass of 4.47 pounds.
The win qualified Hessler and Nauss for their first trip to the Bassmaster High School National Championship. “It was pretty exciting,” said Nauss of their victory. “It was a really good feeling.”
Hessler had an added incentive to win the state championship and qualify for the national championship. “I have wanted to have the experience of going to Nationals since my cousin (Noah Lindus) won the state championship last year,” Hessler said. “Noah said Nationals was a cool experience and something he would always remember.”
The St. Croix Central anglers caught a mixture of largemouth and smallmouth bass both days on Senkos they fished in the shallows of rocky banks. “A Senko is pretty much our main go-to bait,” Nauss said.
“The fishing was steady but it wasn’t fast and furious,” Hessler said.
Waupaca Junior Bassbusters Club members Reece Keeney and Bryce Moder won the junior team championship with a two-day total of six bass weighing 11.61 pounds.
Wisconsin B.A.S.S. Nation members helping Heinecke run the tournament were State Conservation Director Ryan Hoffman and Jason Brazzale.
One of Heinecke’s former junior anglers also volunteered to serve as a boat captain. Grant Ehlenfeldt, a member of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville bass team, told Heinecke he wanted to be a boat captain since the Nation had provide him with so many fishing opportunities when he was in the junior program. Former Junior State Champion Harry Marsh also served as a boat captain for a high school team.