By Garrett Wood
---- — PLATTSBURGH — With fishing season winding down, there are two local youths who are still reveling in their accomplishments over the season.
Dylan Baker, 13, from AuSable and Marshall Maynard, 18, of Plattsburgh competed in a local youth qualifying fishing tournament on June 17, on Lake Champlain. The tournament was put on by The Bass Federation (TFB) of New York.
The two youths won their age groups and advanced to the National Guard Junior World Championship that was held Aug. 10-11 on Lake Lanier, just outside of Atlanta. Baker and Maynard were the sole representatives from N.Y.
The tournament is held in conjunction with the FLW major championship held on the same lake and the youths fished one-on-one with professional anglers.
“There are 30,000 members worldwide,” NYTFB President Ben Wright said. “This is a pretty big deal for two kids from Plattsburgh making the cut, and they represented N.Y. well.”
The TFB put both boys up in a hotel and paid all expenses besides the cost of travel. Once they were there it was a whole different world of fishing compared to Lake Champlain.
“It was really hot and we were fishing in the dog days of summer,” Maynard said. “We were fishing for spotted bass, which act differently from our large and small mouth bass. We had to find a school of fish and fish them deep.”
Maynard was able to catch a 2 lb. 11oz. bass which qualified him for day two of the tournament. On day two he was not as lucky, but was still able to end the contest in 5th place out of around 98 participants. He received a $250 scholarship which he used towards books while attending Clinton Community College.
Maynard’s next step is to eventually buy a boat, so he can enter smaller tournaments as a boater. He is now too old to fish in TBF youth events. He also wants to acquire his captain’s license so he can start doing charter services on Lake Champlain like his father.
“Lake Champlain is the best lake in the world,” Maynard said. “I have fished everywhere and whenever I am somewhere else I get a little homesick for Lake Champlain.”
Baker, unfortunately, didn’t make the cut for day two of the national tournament, but he had a great time and was able to learn a few things from other fishermen. For him the experience was as valuable as winning. His father Kenny tries to bring him fishing whenever he can, and says the TFB is great for young fishermen entering the sport.
“They treat the kids like gods,” Kenny Baker said. “They filled the kids bags with all sorts of fishing stuff from shirts to tackle. Everything was provided for the kids. We just had to pay to get down there.”
Baker’s tournament fishing isn’t done for the year. He will be moving up to the 15-18 year old age group in today’s 2013 qualifier in Port Henry. This tournament will determine who will represent N.Y. in next year’s youth championship.
“Lake Champlain is my favorite place to fish and I really hope I can make the cut for next year,” Dylan said.
Wright says that the TBF is really about getting kids on the water and fishing. They also stress the importance of education where all the prize money comes in the form of scholarships.
“Participation has grown over the years, but realistically we need to stay small, because we lack the number of boats needed to bring all the kids out fishing,” Wright said.
The junior program started in Plattsburgh in 2009. It is still pretty small, mainly because of the lack of boats available to the kids. TBF relies on volunteers to take the kids fishing. There can only be two kids in a boat, so to become bigger they need more boaters to handle the amount of kids wanting to fish the tournaments.
For more information on the TBF or to become a volunteer boater, please contact NYTBF Youth Director, Rob Lamoy at 518-569-6665 or check them out on the web at www.nytbf.com.