Junior BassMasters National Championship
2003 Missouri

Individual Winners


Junior Bassmasters National Championship
July 19,2003 – Smithville Lake, Missouri
By Diane Johnson, NJ Youth Director

The 7200-acre Smithville Lake, north of Kansas City, Missouri and the setting for the first Junior Bassmasters National Championship Event, is known for its flooded timber and as one of Missouri’s best producers of big bass. The temperatures were high and so were the expectations for the young bass anglers from nineteen state Federations including Ontario, Canada.

This event, hosted by the Missouri BASS Federation, is the first ever of its kind, the brainchild of the Junior Bassmasters Invitational Sponsor, Ray Kerchal, father of the late Bassmaster Classic Champion, Bryan Kerchal, and Chairman of the Bryan V. Kerchal Memorial Fund. Ray Kerchal, whose newest vision for the young BASS anglers affiliated with a Junior Bassmaster Chapter, provided a major donation to the Missouri BASS Federation to kick-start this event. The Missouri Federation then obtained additional sponsorship and support from some of the giants of the bass fishing world to bring this event to fruition. Names like Ranger Boats, Cabela’s of Kansas City, World-Outdoors.Com, Yakima Bait Co., Berkley, Solar-Bats, Lowrance, Bass Assassin and Diawa Reels were top sponsors involved.

A pre-tournament meeting, pairing anglers with their boat captains, all of whom were Ranger Pro Staff, saw many honored guests in attendance. These included Denny Brauer, Guido and Dion Hibdon, Mike Wurm, Brent Chapman, Ray Kerchal and BASS Federation Youth Manager, Stacy Twiggs.

Temperatures were in the high 90’s for both days, with the heat index well over 100 degrees. Thunderstorms during the evening cooled temperatures to the 70’s by launch time and fortunately overcast skies did not burn off until late morning. All junior anglers were instructed on how to deal with the heat and sun and not one of the thirty-seven contestants reported any major ill effects from the intense heat.

All of the participants were paired in Ranger Boats with their Captains in a staging area and launched flawlessly at 6 AM. At the 2 PM weigh-in, each Ranger was trailered and brought directly to the weigh-in stand, where emcee Mike Wurm announced each angler and talked on stage with them. It became apparent early on that there were very few, 15 inch minimum fish caught and the title could be won by anyone.

Thirty-seven junior anglers caught only eight fish but the two that Tucker Adams of Missouri pulled from the live well gave him the overall win in the 11-14 age group. Both fish weighed 6.64 pounds total but the 5.09 pound bass that took Tuckers’ crank bait in thirteen feet of water was a lunker everyone dreams about. Nick Kelly, representing Tennessee, took the First Place title in the 15-17 age group with one 2.31 pound bass.

At the Awards Banquet, held under a huge tent outside of Cabela’s, guest speakers included Denny Brauer, both Guido and Dion Hibdon and Stacy Twiggs. Forrest Wood, founder of Ranger Boats, was flown in just for this event to deliver his special message to the junior contenders. Wood had suffered a major injury only one month before and was originally not expected to attend the ceremony.

Trophies were awarded to First, Second and Third Place Winners. The First Place winners in each age group, Adams and Kelly, also received a $1000 Scholarship from world-outdoors.com. The second place winners received $500 scholarships from WDAF-AM 61 Country Radio. Those scholarship amounts were matched by BASS and awarded by Twiggs. Additional guests, who were slated to appear and could not, taped a special congratulatory video segment for the juniors. They were Senator Kit Bond, Harold Ensley (host of the TV show “The Sportmans Friend”), David Fritts, George Cochran and Chad Brauer.

At the awards banquet, all winners were treated to huge bags of tackle from the sponsors while Ray Kerchal presented the Bryan V. Kerchal Memorial Trophies to the National Champions, Adams and Kelly. These trophies had been especially designed by Kerchal for this event and were similar to the 1994 Wrangler/BASS National Championship trophy won by Bryan Kerchal as the top adult federation angler for 1994.

2003 Junior Bassmasters National Championship
Smithville Lake, Missouri
July 19, 2003

The Junior Bassmasters Invitational tournaments, for which the Bryan V. Kerchal Memorial Fund is a major financial sponsor, have been hosted annually, since 1996.  In 2003, to accommodate more states, two Invitationals will be held, one in the East and one in the Midwest.  Since there will be two separate tournaments, there would not be a national champion.  Therefore, the 2003 Junior Bassmasters National Championship was created.  This is not an Invitational Tournament for clubs or for States to send a team to compete against other teams from other states.  Those Invitationals are being held in Minnesota and Virginia.

The 2003 Bassmasters Junior National Championship is the next level, the top tournament for kids and allows just two from each State (one from the younger and older age group) to compete in a National Championship.  Each BASS Federation determines who their junior champions are and these two children are eligible to attend the National regardless of whether they or their state sent anyone to an invitational or not.  We have a number of states who will be attending the National Championship who could or will not be participating in any Invitational or other event this year.  The National is the "Classic" for the Juniors and is sanctioned by B.A.S.S.

The tournament will be held Saturday, July 19, 2003 on Smithville Lake, northeast of Kansas City, Missouri.  Smithville is a 7,200 acre impoundment with 175 miles of shoreline and is well known as a major bass fishery. The lake is located just outside Kansas City and is also near the Kansas City International Airport (15 minutes) for those of you who may choose to fly. We will provide lodging information for you in the near future. (All lodging that we are working with for the tournament provides free transportation to and from the airport and rental car sites if you choose to fly in.)

The Tournament will go out of the Little Platte Public Launch Ramp. All boats and drivers for the tournament will be provided for the contestants by Ranger Boats and their Pro Staff.

July 18, 2003  (Friday)

3:00 P.M.
All pre-fishing activities end and anglers must be off the water.

5:00 to 6:00 P.M. – Angler Registration
Cabela’s Outdoor Store – Upper Level 
(All contestants MUST register IN PERSON.)

6:00 to 8:00 P.M.  Pairings Dinner and Pre-Tournament Meeting
Cabela’s Outdoor Store - (To be attended by all anglers, parents, boaters and Tournament Committee Members.)  Meeting will include a Rules and Safety briefing, pairings drawing, boat assignments
and an opportunity for parents to meet the Pro operating their child’s boat

July 19th. 2003 (Saturday)

Smithville Lake, Little Platt Public Launch Ramp & Weigh-in Site

5:00 to 5:45 A.M.
Boat Inspections/ Live well checks and launching.

5:45 to 6:00 A.M.
Safety Briefing / Time Check / Boat Line-up.

6:00 A.M.
Tournament Launch

2:00 P.M.
Boat Check-in / Weigh-in begins.

Cabela’s Outdoor Store

6:00 to 9:30 P.M.
Awards Banquet – Kansas City Bar-B-Que
Special Guests – Forest Wood, Guido Hibdon, Dion Hibdon, Mike Wurm, Brent Chapman and more.
(To be attended by all anglers, parents, boaters and
Tournament Committee Members.)

Travel Times: 
Hotels to Lake: 20 minutes

Hotels to Cabela’s: 20 minutes

If you would like to talk to me in person, please feel free to
give me a call at my home at

(913) 681-5416.
Jim Coyte
MOBASS Youth Director

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