I was privileged to again help with the Nebraska state high school bass fishing championship tournaments this year.  I got a few pictures, and some details to tell, but let me start with the basic news release:

Sutherland team wins high school bass tournament

July 23, 2018

LINCOLN, Neb. – The Sutherland team of brothers Hunter and Jaron Cooper won the Bass Federation – Student Angler Federation Nebraska High School Bass Tournament Championship at Lewis and Clark Lake’s Weigand Marina on July 21.

The team, coached by Kent Priel, caught five fish weighing a total of 12 pounds, 4 ounces.

A Star City Anglers team from Wahoo took second place. Colton Kelle of Beatrice and McKael Gollin of Firth caught five fish weighing 9 pounds, 13 ounces.

Taking third place with five fish weighing 7 pounds, 6 ounces was the Lincoln County Bass Bosses team of brothers Zane and Chase Leibhart from North Platte.

Hunter Cooper also caught the tournament’s biggest fish, a 3-pound, 5-ounce bass.

Eighteen teams participated in the tournament.

Let me back up and start with Friday, July 20.  Again this year the Nebraska B.A.S.S. Federation held their high school championship on Friday while TBF Nebraska held their high school championship on Saturday, both at the same location, Weigand Marina on Lewis & Clark Reservoir.  Many of the student anglers fished both days, first for the B.A.S.S. high school championship and then on the second day the TBF high school championship.  I took pictures both days, but do not have all the pictures from the first day, the B.A.S.S. championship, to share.


I can tell you that this was the leader board for that first day:


You can see we had representation from around the state.

Weather was great on both days, relatively mild temperatures and light winds.  Teams “blasted off” at 7:00 a.m. both mornings.


Weigh-in was at 1:00 p.m. both days.  Here is what they were fishing for:


Teams traveled far and wide to fish, but on Lewis & Clark any bay provides some “bassy” habitat and is worth at least a few casts, even the bay where everyone launched.


By the way, shortly after I took the photo, that team wandered down the shore a little farther and dried off a nice largemouth!  Of course, I was a little late getting the shot.  If you look real close, you can see the fish in hand here:


OK, the news release already told you who won.  Here is the leader board from the second day, the TBF championship.


Here were the winning Cooper brothers, Jaron and Hunter, with four of their fish:


Nice fish!  Smallmouth bass dominated the catch at this year’s tournament, although you can see there were several “green” bass thrown in for good measure.  In fact, I believe the big fish was the 3.35 pound largemouth being held in the photo.  Yes, Cooper and Cooper cleaned up the big bass prize too.


Here are the brothers with their proud boat captain, Kent Priel:


Those are not the only pictures I got of the teams that fished.  I believe I got a photo of every team but one, and I posted them in an album on the Fish Nebraska FaceBook page.

I mentioned that the teams covered a lot of water this year.  Launching out of Weigand they could fish all of Lewis & Clark Reservoir, and they did, I know teams fished down to the dam, and with the Missouri River running high this summer, they were also able to run up-river from the reservoir.  Most of the smallmouth bass were caught up in the Missouri River above the reservoir.

I did not press Cooper, Cooper and Priel for a lot of details, but I know that they ran a long ways up the Missouri River above Lewis & Clark.  In fact, I am betting they spent nearly half their time running to and from the current breaks they discovered that were holding active, feeding fish.  Kent told me that once they got there, the boys were hooked up right away.  Jigs and topwater baits worked for them once they got to the fish.

Let me say something I noticed about the Cooper brothers. . . . They were very careful of how they handled their fish.  Every team was, but I noticed on both days Jaron and Hunter ran their fish back down to the water for release as soon as they could.  In fact, the first day we did not even get a photo of them with their fish because as soon as they weighed their fish were back in the bag and they were running for the water.  This ole pointy-headed fish, biologist really appreciated their care of their fish!

One short side story here:  Yesterday over lunch I was watching a video Brandon Palaniuk posted on the BassMaster Elite Series event recently held up on Lake Oahe in South Dakota.  Near the end of the video it shows professional angler Palaniuk signing some autographs, and I think I recognized one of the anglers getting his t-shirt signed:


Maybe something rubbed off from all the big sticks when they were up in SoDakota?  Maybe some Nebraska boys are well on their way?  Would not surprise me a bit, our state produces some really good sticks!

For the first time this year, B.A.S.S. held the state college bass fishing championship at the same time.  Those anglers left earlier and weighed-in later, at 2:00 both days.  A couple of teams from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln fished, as well as one team from Creighton and one from Mid-Plains College in North Platte.  Forgive me for not knowing for sure, but I believe most of the young men who fished on the college side had come up through the Nebraska high school ranks in previous years.  I recognized some faces and names.  The college anglers fish by themselves, no other adult running the boat, and they fished for two days, total combined weight of both days won.

Again here is their leader board with both day’s weights:


And here are Pavelka and Peterson, winners on the college side:


Here is a write up on their accomplishment, MPCC Fishing Club Wins State/Qualifies for Nationals.

Helping with the high school bass championships every July means a couple of very early mornings.  But again, I have to say how much I enjoy being able to help, it is fun to interact with the anglers, love their enthusiasm, passion, highs and lows.  It is always fun to talk fishing with them; I always learn something.  Best of luck to the winners as you go on to represent Nebraska in regional and national competitions, I know you will do us proud!

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