The 14th Annual High School Fishing World Finals and National Championship is in the books with another great year of fishing behind us. The Student Angler Federation had a total of 393 teams from 40 states and two foreign countries come to Lacrosse Wisconsin and mix-it-up for four days to determine who the World Champions and National Champions would be for the 2023 Finals.
The National Championship concluded first on Friday, when the top ten National qualifiers from the first two days brought their fish to the scales and the best three-day total was the winner. The Minnesota Bluejacket team of Zachery Piescher and Cole Semler had just enough fish over three days to take the crown by just six ounces with 32-07. The Illinois team of Carter Pjesky and JD McBroom were runner-up’s with 32-01. Louisiana claimed the next two spots with Jase White and Carsen Adcock taking third with 31-00 and Rhett Anderson and Jessie Green finishing fourth with 28-01. Team Jaden, from Georgia, finished out the top five with Jaden Hoffman and Jayden Lintner weighing in 27-04.
With a three fish limit each day, the weights were extremely close and most teams were all turning in limits each day. The biggest majority of teams talked about catching their fish in shallow water. Lacrosse has plenty of grass and matted vegetation and so a lot of the anglers were fishing this way. Topwater baits along the front edges of the grass and then frogs up on the grass mats were the most dominant baits. A few anglers also caught their fish on docks, rocks, points and brush-piles while fishing spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, crankbaits and throwing soft plastics.
The High School Fishing World Finals ended on Saturday. After the Friday weigh in the top 30 teams were decided and it was about as balanced as I have ever seen. There were ten National Championship teams, then ten teams from the Semi-Final group and lastly the last ten teams all came from the Second Chance round. It does not get any more balanced than that. Then the Lucky Dog team was drawn at the party Friday night to make the 31 teams for the World Finals. All weights were zeroed for Saturday’s final round and the heaviest weight was crowned World Finals Champions. Jeff Giffen and Dylan Mladick from Arizona were one of only three teams to break double digits on Saturday and they two claimed the World Finals victory by just a mere six ounces with 10-09. Second place went to the Wisconsin team of Cole Fitzpatrick and Neil Kleinertz with 10-03 and the team from Kansas, Will Shepherd and Cayden Harmon finished third with an even 10-00. Fourth place belonged to Jase White and Carsen Adcock from Louisiana with 9-15 and fifth belonged to the North Dakota team of Logan Bullinger and Ryan Bullinger with 9-14.
These teams also talked about catching the majority of their fish in the grass mats and the thick matted vegetation throughout the week. Frogs, topwater baits and soft plastics all played a major role in their success. All of the Lew’s Big Bass winners were rewarded two Lew’s Reels for their daily big Fish. Mason McCormick and Ryland Russell took the honors on Wednesday with a 5-00 lunker. Andrew Jones and Carson Underwood weighed the biggest bass of the event on Thursday with a giant 5-11 lunker. Joey Elliott and Anna Dosenberger weighed the biggest fish on Friday with a 5-01 giant.
The other part of the Student Angler Federation event was the fact that there was over three million dollars in scholarship opportunities, for many of the top 30 teams and lots of angler and boat captain prizes for the top ten World Finalists.