GADSDEN, Ala. – Josh Wagy of Dewitt, Va., and Johnathan Jones of Chickasha, Okla., won bass fishing’s National Guard Junior World Championship on Lake Neely Henry Monday, each earning a $5,000 scholarship plus sponsor prize packages of more than $800 from Castrol, Lowrance and Yamaha.
Wagy won the 15 to 18 age bracket with five bass weighing 15 pounds while competing from the Stren boat with Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship pro Glenn Browne of Ocala, Fla.
“He taught me a lot,” Wagy said of Browne. “Anything he could tell me (within the rules), he did. I appreciate that a lot.”
Wagy fished a jig around boat docks and grass to win the tournament by more than four pounds.
“This is my last year fishing as a junior angler,” he said. “This tournament is the best one I have ever been to and they will get better and better every year.”
Rounding out the top 15 to 18 junior anglers are Sean Alarid of Oakley, Calif. (five bass, 10 pounds, 15 ounces, $4,000 scholarship plus a prize pack); Blake Felix of Raymore, Mo. (five bass, 9 pounds, 14 ounces, $3,000 scholarship plus a prize pack); Wil Dieffenbauch of Hundred, W.Va. (five bass, 9 pounds, 3 ounces, $2,000 scholarship plus a prize pack); and Sam Nelson of Hutchinson, Kan. (five bass, 8 pounds, 11 ounces, $1,000 scholarship plus a prize pack).
Jones won the 11 to 14 age bracket with three bass weighing 9 pounds, 6 ounces while competing from the National Guard boat with FLW Tour Championship pro Ramie Colson Jr.
“It was awesome,” Jones said. “It was a lot different than fishing at home. I had a lot of fun.”
Jones chose to fish from the back of the boat, while throwing a Senko around grass.
“I’m rough on trolling motors,” he said. “I nearly threw myself out of the boat once, so I would rather fish from the back of the boat.”
Rounding out the top five finishers among junior anglers in the 11 to 14 age bracket are Payden Hibdon of Stover, Mo. (four bass, 9 pounds, 3 ounces, $4,000 scholarship plus a prize pack); Chandler Young of Independence, Kan. (four bass, 8 pounds, 2 ounces, $3,000 scholarship plus a prize pack); Kurt Mitchell of Milford, Del. (five bass, 7 pounds, 11 ounces, $2,000 scholarship plus a prize pack); and Matt Carabello of Discovery Bay, Calif. (five bass, 7 pounds, 10 ounces, $1,000 scholarship plus a prize pack).
In addition to awarding scholarships and prizes to top anglers in each age bracket, FLW Outdoors also awarded $1,000 on behalf of the National Guard to each of TBF (The Bass Federation) state youth programs sponsoring the top five junior anglers in each age group. This donation totaling $10,000 will help fund future TBF youth activities at the state and local levels.
Both youth champions will attend the FLW Tour Championship registration meeting and banquet with 48 of the world’s top professional anglers Tuesday. On Wednesday, the top five junior anglers in each age group will be recognized on stage at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex Arena during the opening-round weigh-in of the FLW Tour Championship. Wagy and Jones will start Thursday off with an on-the-water photo shoot and later attend the Family Fun Zone at the BJCC, signing autographs in sponsor booths just like the pros. On Saturday, the final day of the FLW Tour Championship, Wagy and Jones ride in chase boats in order to observe their favorite pros fishing on Lake Logan Martin for a top prize of $500,000 cash – the sport’s biggest award. The pair will also be recognized again on stage during pre-show activities at the BJCC arena.
Held in advance of the $1.5 million FLW Tour Championship presented by Castrol, the National Guard Junior World Championship featured 60 anglers from 32 participating TBF chapters.
The junior anglers were paired with an FLW Tour pro for one day of competition with three anglers to a boat: one junior angler from each age group plus an FLW Tour pro, who ran the boat and mentored the anglers but was not allowed to fish. Fishing locations and time on the front deck were split by the two junior anglers.
Since the National Guard partnered with FLW Outdoors and TBF earlier this year, it has stepped up in support of the youth and conservation at every opportunity.
“Since its inception in 1636, the National Guard has been about building strong communities,” said Sgt. 1st Class Frank O’Laughlin of the National Guard Bureau. “In order to build strong communities you need the help of organizations that build strong individuals. The TBF does this by teaching character and values. It is an honor to partner with them, as we share a similar and parallel vision. One of the most paramount things for us to do in every community we serve is to make a lasting, positive impression – to make a difference – and we are doing that alongside FLW Outdoors and the TBF.”
TBF President Robert Cartlidge said the National Guard Junior World Championship not only highlights the nation’s top young anglers, but also the nation’s TBF youth directors and dedicated state presidents who work tirelessly to provide fishing opportunities for the next generation of anglers.
“Besides helping TBF chapters nationwide spur interest among youths in their home states, the National Guard Junior World Championship validates the tireless work that our chapters do on a daily basis,” Cartlidge said. “For the state federations to be able to see their junior club members – their kids – compete in the National Guard Junior World Championship and see them up on the FLW Tour Championship stage, and all that goes with that, brings a tremendous amount of satisfaction and pride, not only in the kids, but also in each chapter’s efforts on behalf of all our nation’s youth.”
For more information about TBF Junior Angler programs, contact your state’s TBF chapter. A list of state chapters can be found at bassfederation.com or through the TBF link at FLWOutdoors.com. For complete results from the National Guard Junior World Championship, browse FLWOutdoors.com.