Reeling in the big one
Johnson, Hubbert win state fishing championship
Bolivar High School’s fishing team is only two years old, but it has already established quite the pedigree for success.
Sophomores Andrew Johnson and John Hubbert reeled in the program’s first state championship last weekend during the National Youth Fishing Association South Division championships at Pomme de Terre Lake.
The Liberator team caught four fish that totaled 18.05 pounds to capture the tournament title. Bolivar outdueled the second-place team by more than 9 pounds, earning each angler $1,000 in scholarship money.
“This was a huge accomplishment for us and a big win for the team,” Johnson said. “We hope to get some good sponsors for next year and keep Bolivar on top.”
The duo felt right at home during this competition, having spent countless hours scouring the waters of Pomme de Terre over the years.
Johnson and Hubbert went out the day before to test the waters and find where the fish were biting. They discovered using Texas-rigged, 10-inch plum plastic worms with 3/8-pound weights and 4/0 extra-wide gap hooks worked the best.
“We knew we had some good fishing ahead when we were pre-fishing with my dad the day before,” Johnson said. “Everything we caught was 3, 4 and 5 pounds.”
On tournament day, the technique didn’t work right away.
“It was stressful,” Johnson said. “We didn’t catch anything for the first hour out there.”
The duo didn’t panic. They ventured to the far end of the river and flipped 10-inch worms on laydowns, stumps and brush piles.
“Top water was our plan early in the morning,” Johnson said.
“After the first hour, we went to flipping in heavy cover the rest of the day,” Hubbert added.
The tactic worked right away, and Johnson hauled in the biggest bass of the tournament at 5.87 pounds.
“We knew it was going to be a good day when the first fish I caught was (nearly) a 6-pounder,” Johnson said. “We were just doing what we love and what we had confidence in.”
They hauled in the limit by 9:45 a.m. and put the field of 290 high school and middle school anglers on notice they were the team to beat. Their four-fish limit was more than 9 pounds better than second place.
Hillcrest High School’s Josh Ruggles entered as an individual and finished second with a four-fish limit of 8.81 pounds to win $1,500 in scholarship money. Nixa’s Carson Young and Cameron Boardman placed third with a total of 8.71 pounds to earn $1,200 in scholarship money….Read More