From left: Two stud keepers after the weigh-in and just before release. Smells like victory? A.J. Draper of Iowa gets a good, deep sniff of PowerBait. Tom Fowlks
Want to take a sneak peek at the future of bass fishing? Look no further than The Bass Federation’s Junior World Championship. It’s like any other pro bass tournament you might see on television, except the competitors are all 15 and under (there’s no minimum age limit). Each boat has an adult captain, but it’s up to the kids to do the fishing. They tie their own rigs, run the trolling motor, read graphs, and then give interviews and post their successes on social media when the competition is over. And just as in those pro-level tourneys, the anglers are decked out in logoed jerseys and there’s big money on the line. TBF’s junior division feeds its high school program, where anglers can earn full-ride scholarships to some of the top colleges in the country. “This gives those kids who are not your typical ball-and-stick athletes a chance to compete,” says Joey Bray, TBF’s national youth director. “When these kids fish in the Junior World Championship, they’re proud to wear their jerseys back at school.”
Alex Robinson is Outdoor Life’s editor-in-chief. He oversees an ace team of writers, photographers, and editors who are scattered across the continent and cover everything from backcountry sheep hunting to trail running.