Syler Prince of Palatka won The Bass Federation (TBF) Junior World Championship last Saturday on Lake Waterlee in Camden, S.C., to take home the coveted trophy and a $3,000 scholarship to a college of his choice.
Competing against youngsters from 35 states, the 12-year-old angler put together on the final day a four-fish creel weighing 8.14 pounds to best runner-up Jeremy Toler of Oceana, W.Va., by slightly over five pounds.
The championship was comprised of six divisions across the nation: Southern, Mid-Atlantic, Eastern, Northern, Central and Western.
By virtue of winning the Florida Junior Angler State Championship for 11-15 year-old fishermen last June on the St. Johns River in Palatka, Syler was a representative in the Southern Division.
The two-day World Championship beginning Friday concluded with the top angler from each division qualifying to fish the final day. Syler took the Southern Division with two fish tipping the scales at 4.4 pounds.
Saturday’s six finalists would be controlling their trolling motor, with a captain at the wheel and an observer.
Syler told tournament emcee Robert Carter before a big crowd that he stuck to his plan both days on the 13,500-acre impoundment.
“We were so proud of Syler,” said his mom Kelley from her cell phone, while she and husband Cliff were traveling home from Camden with Syler sound asleep in the back seat.
“He is sleeping hard back there,” said Kelley. “It’s been an exciting and tough two-days and he is exhausted. But, soon his mind will be thinking about next year. He hopes to repeat and would be fishing the World Championship in Arkansas.”
For most of both days he said he used a 7-foot, 6-inch Fitzgerald flipping stick with Lew’s reel to cover shoreline grass beds.
“In the early morning, I would toss a top water Pop R and I did boat one fish, but later I went go back to the grass lines flipping a soft plastic Bass Assassin, green/pumpkin-colored Pure Craws,” said Syler after a long nap and still en route with his parents.
Following the championship, the junior anglers attended the FLW Cup professional tournament weigh-in where they were presented on stage their trophies and scholarships by world-renowned BASS fisherman Hank Parker.
“It was first time to meet Mr. Parker,” said Syler. “He is a really nice guy.”
Syler is in the seventh grade at Q.I. Roberts Junior-Senior High School.
TBF Junior Anglers ages 11-15 are members of an active junior fishing club sponsored by TBF adult bass clubs. At present there are active state Junior programs in 40 states. The Junior World Championship is the premier fishing tournament in the world, and is held in conjunction with the Forest L. Wood Cup (FLW) event.