Marvin, Stolski Crowned Junior Champs
The two-day event pitted state champions from six divisions across the U.S. against one another in 11-to-14-year-old and 15-to-18-year-old age groups. On day one, the entire field competed, with the top angler from each age group in each division moving on to the final shoot out on Saturday.
“Words can’t describe this feeling,” says Marvin, of Peru, N.Y., after weighing 8 pounds, 10 ounces to take the crown in the older age group. “It doesn’t feel real yet.”
“It’s great to come down and win this on a Southern lake that fishes so differently than what I’m used to back home,” adds Stolski, of Baxter, Minn.
After a tough start on day one, Stolski brought a 4-pound, 1-ounce bass to the scale on day two to top the competition in the younger group.
Marvin’s Green Game
Marvin, a hard-fishing yet soft-spoken 15-year-old, boated three bass weighing 7 pounds, 7 ounces on day one. The catch put him atop the Eastern Division and earned him a coveted berth into the final round.
With all weights zeroed for day two, Marvin had a second chance to topple his competitors – some of whom had scored bigger bags on day one. Southern Division ace Sean King, for example, had sacked five bass weighing 14 pounds, 4 ounces to lead the field the first day, and several other divisional leaders broke the 10-pound barrier as well.
“I honestly didn’t feel any pressure,” Marvin says of knowing that at least a few of his rivals were on better bites. “I’m confident in my skills. Plus, you can’t think about what the other anglers are going to do. You have to focus on your own fishing, not theirs, or it gets in your head.”
On day one, Marvin scored a bass early on a buzzbait, then took another off a tree on a white Z-Man Original ChatterBait with a Keitech trailer. He hooked his third and final fish of the day in deeper water on a Terminator flipping jig sweetened with a Gambler Mega Daddy craw trailer.
When topwaters and ChatterBaits faltered on day two, Marvin switched to punching thick, shallow grass with a 1 1/2-ounce tungsten bullet weight and blue-black craw. Whenever shaking grass tips betrayed a bass below, he flipped the rig in, let it settle and then gave it a few quick pops. The tactic yielded two bass for his 8-pound, 10-ounce total.
It wasn’t Marvin’s first trip to the winner’s circle. In June, he was part of the winning team at the Student Angler Federation’s New York and Vermont Dual State High School Fishing Championship on the St. Lawrence River at Clayton, N.Y. And in 2013, he won New York’s TBF Junior Angler Program state championship to qualify for the national showdown on Lake Wateree.
He plans to continue fishing the SAF and TBF Junior Angler Program events and expand his tournament horizons to FLW’s Walmart Bass Fishing League next season.
“I hope to gain more experience and connections, because that’s what it takes to move up,” he explains.
Hot, calm conditions challenged the field on day one, making bites elusive. It was especially tough on Stolski and his fellow Northern Division rivals, as the entire group blanked. Since TBF rules dictate birth date as the tie-breaker, with the eldest angler moving forward, Stolski got another shot at cracking Wateree’s code.
“On day one I tried a number of presentations,” he says. “I fished a shaky-head jig both deep and around docks, threw buzzbaits along shore, cast diving crankbaits, and tried football heads as well, with no luck.”
Day two offered a bit of a break, with slightly stronger breezes and more morning cloud cover. Stolski still had faith in the shaky-head program, but realized that adjustments were in order.
“I knew I had to slow down,” he says.
And so he did, patiently, until 1:30 in the afternoon, when his persistence was finally rewarded.
“I was working a 12-foot ridge top surrounded by deeper water, with a 1/4-ounce shaky head tipped with a Zoom Trick Worm,” Stolski says.
As the jig bounced bottom, Stolski detected a heaviness unlike the tug of rocks or brush.
“I pulled back, felt the fish and set the hook,” he says.
The ensuing seesaw battle ended with the 4-pound, 1-ounce prize resting in his livewell.
“I didn’t think it would be enough to win, because on day one another guy had 6 pounds, but I was still glad to have it,” Stolki says.
As fate would have it, Stolski’s ridge-top reward was enough to claim the crown. The win capped an emotional roller coaster, but Stolski has no plans to put his competitive efforts on hold. A two-year veteran of the TBF Junior Angler Program who credits his older brother for fueling his competitive fishing passion, he plans to continue to fish TBF tournaments and try his hand at SAF High School Fishing events as well.
Adding to the excitement at the championship, finalists were shuttled from the weigh-in area at Clearwater Cove Marina to the main stage of the Forrest Wood Cup at Columbia, S.C., for a TBF Junior Angler parade and champions’ presentation in front of thousands of cheering fans.
11- to 14-year-olds
1. Joe Stolski, Baxter, Minn., Northern Division, one bass, 4-01, $2,500 scholarship
2. James Fields, Anthem, Ariz., Western Division, one bass, 3-13, $1,250 scholarship
3. Cole Moore, Anacoco, La., Central Division, one bass, 2-10, $750 scholarship
4. Jacob Ferrell, Vernon Hills, Va., Mid-Atlantic Division, one bass, 2-03, $375 scholarship
5. Stephen Stroz, Shrewsbury, Mass., Eastern Division, 0 bass, 0-00, $250 scholarship
6. Harrison Norman, Covington, Ga., Southern Division, 0 bass, 0-00, $200 scholarship
15- to 18-year-olds
1. Perry Marvin, Peru, N.Y., Eastern Division, two bass, 8-10, $2,500 scholarship
2. Sean King, Villa Hills, Ky., Southern Division, three bass, 6-14, $1,250 scholarship
3. Steven Sellnow, Watertown, Wis., Northern Division, three bass, 5-15, $750 scholarship
4. Caleb Bruss, Bernardsville, N.J., Mid-Atlantic Division, two bass, 5-06, $375 scholarship
5. Hunter Daniel, Lamar, Ark., Central Division, one bass, 2-02, $250 scholarship
6. Richard Davey Jr., Richland, Wash., Western Division, 0 bass, 0-00, $200 scholarship