Sharp-eyed residents of Louisiana's Cross Lake will notice an unusually high number of youth anglers on the water this Thursday and Friday, Oct. 28 and 29.
By squinting - or, easier, by simply asking - an observer could deduce that the kids are competitors in the 2010 Junior Bassmaster World Championship out of Shreveport-Bossier City, La., a 12-person competition of six anglers within two age groups (11-14; 15-18). It will run concurrently with the Oct. 27-29 BASS Federation Nation Championship.
The kids will be on Cross Lake Thursday for a practice session. They will return Friday morning for the one-day competition. At stake are scholarship awards and braggin' rights. But each angler will gain experience fishing against others in their age groups who possess the same above-average skill levels.
That's what 17-year-old Matt Nobile of Paulina, La., is hoping to get out of his first Junior World experience. Like all 12 qualifiers, Nobile had to win his state tournament, then win the divisional within his 15-18 age group, before he earned the right to advance to this week's Junior World.
He's the sole home-state entrant. That might prove to be a valuable advantage simply because he lives close enough (about six hours by vehicle) to have made an earlier scouting trip possible. He said he got in more than two days of pre-practice before the off-limits period kicked in.
"It's a tough lake," was the first thing he said about Cross. He's already learned to heed a caution not to divulge secrets.
"We didn't cream the fish," he added. "But we caught enough to make me feel kind of comfortable going into it. (But) nobody in this tournament is a rookie. Everybody's just as good as the next person."
Nobile could serve as a prime example of a next-generation bass pro. He recently met and talked with Bassmaster Elite Series pro Cliff Crochet, a fellow Louisiana angler who gave him an honest review of life as a top-level pro.
"It's hard, but possible, and not just a dream. That's what Cliff told me. I think just about everybody in the Junior Bassmaster program would one day like to be on the Elite Series and fish for a living. But I'll take it a step at a time. I'm going to college, and I'd like to fish the college series. Then maybe the Bassmaster Opens."
His timing for the college-level competition may be spot-on. BASS announced this week that it has created a dedicated avenue for the 2011 College Bass Champion into the 2012 Bassmaster Classic (new details are at www.collegebass.com).
Nobile said he has the full support of his family, and especially of his father, Scott. Nobile also has made friends and been inspired by other Louisiana anglers besides Crochet, including Jamie Laiche of Gonzales, who as a Federation Nation Championship angler this year will be in Shreveport-Bossier City with Nobile all week.
The Junior anglers will weigh their catches Oct. 29 on the BASS Federation Nation Championship weigh-in stage set up at Bossier City's Red River South Marina. The Junior weigh-in will begin at 3:30 p.m. CT., just before the final-day Federation Nation weigh-in. Coverage will be online atwww.Bassmaster.com. All events are free and open to the public.
Here's the full 2010 Junior World field, by age group and including the division through which each angler qualified.
Logan Holt, Creedmoor, N.C. (Southern Division)
Tanner Cooper, Farmington, N.M (Western Division)
Matt Nobile, Paulina, La. (Central Division)
Harry Marsh, New Berlin, Wis. (Northern Division)
John Duarte, Baltimore, Md. (Mid-Atlantic Division; Duarte won the 2009 competition in the 11-14 age group)
Alex Wetherell, Middletown, Conn. (Eastern Division)
Ryan Edwards, Stuart, Fla. (Southern Division)
Ethan Peterson, Post Falls, Idaho (Western Division)
Nick Luna, Grain Valley, Kan. (Central Division)
Joshua Lee, Star Prairie, Wis. (Northern Division)
Henry Schomaker, Pineville, W.Va. (Mid-Atlantic Division)
Chris Catucci, Warwick, R.I. (Eastern Division)
Why Elite pro Matt Greenblatt turned co-angler: A Bassmaster Elite Series rookie in the 2010 season, Matt Greenblatt of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., competed last week in the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open event on Lake Texoma.
As a co-angler.
Greenblatt, who qualified for the Elite Series through the 2009 Bassmaster Northern Opens, said he was drawn to fish Texoma just so he could log his first Texas lake experience.
He said he was in the Lone Star State with a few free days and no boat, so he elected to step in on the non-boater side. He was boatless because his rig's transom was being repaired and the hull was being rewrapped for the 2011 Elite season with graphics of title sponsor Carrot Stix as well as with River2Sea and Gary Yamamoto Baits logos.
He finished 29th in the now-notoriously difficult Texoma tournament, making just enough to make back his co-angler entry fee, a deal that suited him just fine, thank you.
"At one point I put my rod down and watched," he said. "I was there to learn."
For more than 40 years, BASS has served as the authority on bass fishing. The organization advances the sport through advocacy, outreach and its expansive tournament structure while championing efforts to connect directly with the passionate community of bass anglers through its Bassmaster media vehicles.
The Bassmaster brand and its considerable multimedia platforms are guided by a mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry-leading publications Bassmaster Magazine, BASS Times and Fishing Tackle Retailer; comprehensive Web properties in Bassmaster.com, BASSInsider.com, and ESPN3.com, and ESPN2 television programming, Bassmaster provides rich, leading-edge content true to the lifestyle.
BASS oversees the prestigious Bassmaster Tournament Trail, which includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bassmaster Opens, BASS Federation Nation and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Bassmaster Classic.
BASS offers an array of services to its more than 500,000 members while spearheading progressive, positive change on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.