Tuesday, September 13, 2022

2022 Iowa Bass Nation Youth State Championship

Each year for the past couple of decades, dozens of youth teams have come together to test their bass fishing skills against other kids from all over the state.  This year the Bass State Championship was held on Pool 10 of the Mississippi River near Marquette, Iowa.  The tournament is divided into two different divisions, the Junior Division, for all teams up to 8th grade and the High School division for the older students.  Clubs that participated in this event included: Cedar Falls Fishing Team, Basskickers, Eastern Iowa Bassmasters, Independence Bass Club, Iowa Youth Fishing League, Johnston High School, West Delaware, and the Dubuque Bass Club.  Fifty teams in total gathered for this annual event hosted by the Iowa Youth Bass Nation and President Shanda Heath.  

Many anglers took to the water on a cold, wet and windy Saturday to try and find locations that the river bass were feeding.  Largemouth and Smallmouth bass can be weighed in during this event, with the goal of each team to have 5 keeper (14 inches or more) bass to weigh-in.  Each team, two students can fish anywhere on the river they want, as long as they are back by the check-in time at the weigh-in site.  A captain, or adult is in each boat to drive and to keep the kids safe as well as coach them throughout the long day.  Saturday afternoon was the annual meeting for this event, it was great to see about 100 kids all excited for the tournament day, even though they were stuck under a pavilion as the rain continued.  Boat numbers were handed out, some goodie bags for all participants and some brief reminders about the rules.  The meeting concluded and anglers set off to a night of nervous sleep before the biggest event of the year.  

Junior Division BIG BASS
Sunday morning rolled around and the weather was much improved, no rain and partly cloudy was the forecast, a very nice September day on the Mississippi River.  Anglers, Captains and boats were put into the river to wait the takeoff well before dark and the anticipation was growing.  The event would last about nine hours with a start time of 6:30am and most anglers having to check back in by 3:30pm.  Captains drove the boats in all different directions once the tournament started, there is roughly 30,000 acres of water on Pool 10 of the Mississippi River so there was plenty of room to spread out the 49 boats for the students to fish.  When anglers and captains came to the big river on this particular weekend they found the water levels a bit below normal.  This is typically a good thing in the fall as it can concentrate groups of bass into small areas on the river.  Once you find one bass this time of year, you are sure to find several more not that far away.  However, this was not a usual middle of September weather pattern, which threw the Mississippi Bass for a loop.  A big cold front swept in Friday evening dropping daytime highs of mid-80s to daytime highs of mid-50s, the first of such a cold front this fall.  It certainly did not make fishing easy for these young anglers, as the weigh-in would show.

The Junior Division, which consisted of 13 teams started the weigh-in process at 3:15pm.  As mentioned each team, or pair of anglers is allowed to bring their five biggest bass to the scale, while making the 14-inch minimum length limit for each bass.  In third place was the team of Colton Willging and Finn Boyle, their captain was Jeff Willging.  The Dubuque Bass Club anglers brought in 4 bass that weighed 8.35 pounds.  In second place was the team from the Eastern Iowa Bassmasters, Avery Schmitt and Maddox Hanson weighed in 5 bass that weighed 11.60 pounds, they were captained by Adam Schmitt.  The 2022 Junior Championship goes to the Independence Bass Club anglers of Jackson Beatty and Gable Eddy, along with their captain Andy Sommerfelt.  This duo brought in a limit of five bass that weighed 12.17 pounds.  The champions reported catching about 10 keepers on the day around sandy points.  They used topwater baits, crankbaits and soft plastic lures to catch their winning fish.  The team of Brayden Miller and Ryder Shaw, captained by Bob Rinderknecht from the Eastern Iowa Bassmasters club brought in the Big Bass of this division, it weighed 3.63 pounds, a true river trophy.

The High School Division, which included 37 teams of anglers were similar to the Junior Divison.  In fifth place was the team of Kaden Dorman and Brady Schumacher captained by Mike Dorman.  The Iowa Youth Fishing League partnership weighed in 4 keeper bass that weighed 8.21 pounds.  In fourth place was the West Delaware team of Keegan Waugh and Blake Recker, captained by Aaron Robinson.  They had a five fish limit that weighed 8.52 pounds.  In third place was the Cedar Falls Fishing team of Kael Moore and Lane Weichman, captained by Carter Moore.  They caught four keepers that weighed 9.90 pounds.  In the Runner-Up spot was the Eastern Iowa Bassmaster team of Jacob Lange and Shane Lochner, captained by Jason Lange.  They had a limit of five bass that weighed 10.73 pounds.  The 2022 Iowa Bass Nation High School Champions are the team of Justin Schmadeke and Hunter Patton, captained by Eric Johnston.  This Independence Bass Club team brought in a limit of five keeper bass that weighed 12.18 pounds.  The Indee Bass Club also claimed the Biggest Bass of the tournament, Carter Cameron and Ranger Reed, captained by Todd Reed brought a 3.84 pound largemouth bass to the scale to claim top honors, as well as a sixth place finish.  Cameron reported catching that river monster on a spinnerbait.  

49 Boats in all competed in the 2022 State Tournament
The start of the weekend may not have begun like many of the young anglers wanted, cold, windy, and rainy weather, but there were many smiles to go around at the Sunday weigh-in.  Anglers were greeted at the weigh-in with sandwiches and drinks to refuel after a long day of fishing.  The Iowa Youth Bass Nation sends the top two teams from each division to the Bass Nation National Youth Tournament.  This tournament will take place next summer.  It is quite an accomplishment to fish against this many teams and come out at the top of the list, congratulations to the teams of the Eastern Iowa Bassmasters, and the Independence Bass Club anglers as they will represent the state of Iowa at the 2023 Bass Nation Youth National Tournament. 

High School Champs~~~~~JR Division Champs~~~~~HS Big Bass

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