Two Rogue Valley teens will be pitching and flipping their way toward bass-angling history next spring when the represent the Western United States in the upcoming national high-school fishing championships.
Jacob Wall and Colby Pearson were too much for the rest of the field in last Saturday's regional championships in Arizona, routing a field of other two-person teams in the event organized by The Bass Federation.
The pair, representing Oregon, weighed a full limit of five bass that tipped the scales at 14 pounds, almost twice that of the second-place team, representing California, in the FLW/TBF High School Fishing Regional Championships on Saguaro Lake near Mesa, Ariz.
They did it with the first five largemouth bass they caught in the one-day tournament, then released two other legal-sized fish that didn't make the team's cut.
"We were hopeful we could go down there and catch 13-14 pounds, and we did," says Wall, a St. Mary's School junior from Jacksonville. "We couldn't have asked for any better a tournament."
The pair each won a trophy, but more importantly they will be the last of five teams that will compete in the national high-school championships next spring, with the date and location not yet announced.
"We're pretty good for our age, and we had a good feeling we'd do well together," says Pearson, a Crater High School senior from Central Point. "We fish together as a team, no matter what."
The pair qualified for Saturday's regional tournament by winning the inaugural Oregon State High School Championship on the Columbia River last spring, which was the first step toward their ultimate goal of winning the upcoming national championship.
But first they had to reign supreme on Saguaro Lake last weekend, against nine other Western state champion teams. This latest tournament was held in conjunction with the three-day National Guard FLW College Fishing Regional Championship hosted by Arizona State University.
The Oregon teens, visiting from the land of salmon, not only dominated their field, but also the college field.
The winning college team could muster only 23 pounds, 2 ounces of bass over three days. Pearson's and Wall's accomplishment came on the final day of the college tournament.
Most of the college kids fished in water up to 65 feet deep, while Pearson and Wall focused on water eight to 20 feet deep and found some big largemouth cruising the shallows, Pearson says.
"One college kid said, 'Go deep or go home,' " Pearson says. "We didn't, and did well."
National champions will each earn a $5,000 scholarship to use at the university of their choice.
Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.