Cerja And Richardson Win Bassmaster Junior National Championship


Mark Cerja Jr. and Gus Richardson of the Lone Star Junior Bassmasters have won the 2022 Bassmaster Junior National Championship on Carroll County 1000 Acre Recreational Lake with a two-day total of 18 pounds, 5 ounces.
Photo by Laura Agee/B.A.S.S.

HUNTINGDON, Tenn. — Victories are not always dramatic and glamorous, but Mark Cerja Jr. and Gus Richardson of the Lone Star Junior Bassmasters were proud of their gritty, gutsy effort. 

Grinding through a stingy final round, they tallied a two-day total of 18 pounds, 5 ounces and won the Bassmaster Junior National Championship at the Carroll County 1000 Acre Recreational Lake.

A Day 1 limit of 10-7 put Cerja and Richardson in second place. Catching another limit of 7-14 in the final round, they claimed the top award — a $2,000 scholarship they’ll split.

“I’ve been fishing since I was 2, and I was taught to fish hard and grind and never give up,” Cerja said. “Today was a tough, tough bite; we didn’t get our limit until about noon, whereas yesterday, we were culling at 10 a.m.

“It’s just an exciting feeling to go home national champions. I’ll sleep well tonight.”

After capitalizing on the barometric fluctuation of Friday’s passing storm system, which triggered aggressive feeding, Cerja and Richardson found the bass less active on the final day.

“I think it was pretty hard on the fish because they had just been fished,” Richardson said. “This is a pretty small lake and 65 teams were hitting the same spots (multiple times).”

As Cerja explained, their winning strategy was pure persistence, with a good dose of mobility.

“We started fishing War Eagle Creek but only had two in the box, so we went over to Jaguar Creek and caught one that was about 12 1/2 (inches),” Cerja said. “We said ‘We need a couple of big ones if we really want to win this.’

“So, we went to Rocket Creek — that’s where I caught a 4 and (Richardson) caught a 2 1/2.”

Cerja said he and his partner caught their fish in 8 to 10 feet of water. Docks with grass and brushpiles were best, but they also fished the backs of shallow creek channels.

On Day 1, Richardson caught a 4-7 on a white fluke. The winners caught their other fish on 4-inch plum finesse worms, 7-inch Berkley Power Worms in blue fleck and Zoom U-Tale Worms in tequila green flake. The latter produced their largest Day 2 catch — the 4-pounder.

“We thought it was better just twitching it pretty slowly and making sure we paid attention to the action — just making it look like something a bass would want to eat,” Richardson said.

Owen Ray and Camdyn Cranfill of the Rhea County Eagle Anglers finished second with 17-3. After placing third on Day 1 with a limit of 10-3, they added a three-fish bag of 7 pounds.

Repeating their Day 1 game plan, Ray and Cranfill again targeted deeper docks. Unfortunately, the bass were less cooperative the second time around.

“It was a lot slower bite today; our offshore stuff where we could get a limit (on Friday) did not work today,” Cranfill said. “We threw a glide bait around docks and ended up with two decent ones. We caught one small one on a drop shot.”

Ray said the day’s cloudy conditions limited their opportunities. As he explained, they needed more sunshine to position bass on the docks.

Ander Cowan and Alex Fitzpatrick of the PA Bassin Juniors finished third with 17-2. Day 1 saw them place seventh with four bass that weighed 7 pounds, but they gained four spots by adding 10-2 during the final round.

Cowan and Fitzpatrick also missed their final-round limit by one fish, but anchoring their bag with Cowan’s 7-1 made their day. The fish bit a 1/4-ounce shaky head with a trick worm in the bruised banana color.

The bite, Cowan said, was pretty subtle — he simply lifted his rod and felt pressure. The most memorable part of the story was the utter fiasco that occurred during the netting process.

“The net got tangled with one of our poles and we actually netted that fish with the pole still in the net,” Cowan said. “That was a very good comeback; I was definitely not expecting that.”

Fitzpatrick said the key to his team’s success was fishing deep.

“A lot of the lake’s docks had been overfished,” he said. “We were sitting in about 18 feet of water and fishing in 20.”

Landon Gabby and Carson Bruner of Marion, Ill., won the Big Bass award with their 8-3.

The Bassmaster Junior Series National Championship was hosted by the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce.

2022 Bassmaster Junior Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota
2022 Bassmaster Junior Series Premier Sponsors: Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Progressive Insurance, Ranger Boats, Rapala, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha
2022 Bassmaster Junior Series Supporting Sponsors: AFTCO, Daiwa, Garmin, Huk Performance Fishing, Marathon, Strike King, Triton Boats, VMC
2022 Bassmaster Junior Series Youth Sponsors: Shimano, SPRO

About B.A.S.S.
B.A.S.S., which encompasses the Bassmaster tournament leagues, events and media platforms, is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 515,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), TV show, radio show, social media programs and events. For more than 50 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, St. Croix Bassmaster Opens Series presented by Mossy Oak Fishing, TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Series, Strike King Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Abu Garcia Bassmaster High School Series presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Team Championship, Yamaha Rightwaters Bassmaster Kayak Series powered by TourneyX, Yamaha Bassmaster Redfish Cup Championship presented by Skeeter and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic.

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Media Contact: Emily Harley, B.A.S.S. Communications Manager, 205-313-0945, eharley@bassmaster.com

2022 Bassmaster Junior National Championship – Carroll County Lake 7/29-7/30
Carroll County One Thousand Acre Recreational Lake, Huntingdon  TN.
(BOATER) Standings Day 2

    Angler                                       Club/School                       Pts

1.  Mark Cerja Jr – Gus Richardson               Lone Star Jr Bassmasters TX           0
Day 1: 5   10-07     Day 2: 5   07-14   Total:  10  18-05
2.  Owen Ray – Camdyn Cranfill                   Rhea County Eagle Anglers             0
Day 1: 5   10-03     Day 2: 3   07-00   Total:   8  17-03
3.  Ander Cowan – Alex Fitzpatrick               PA Bassin Juniors                     0
Day 1: 4   07-00     Day 2: 4   10-02   Total:   8  17-02
4.  Rooksby Gordon – Fisher Deason               American Christian Academy – AL       0
Day 1: 5   11-07     Day 2: 5   05-04   Total:  10  16-11
5.  Caden Strawn – Drew Turner                   Sand Springs Clyde Boyd OK            0
Day 1: 3   02-06     Day 2: 3   13-15   Total:   6  16-05
6.  Caleb Logue – Hayden Reynolds                Three Rivers Bassmasters GA           0
Day 1: 5   04-14     Day 2: 4   09-13   Total:   9  14-11
7.  Nic Sitton – Dawson Cooper                   Melbourne AR                          0
Day 1: 5   05-02     Day 2: 5   09-08   Total:  10  14-10
8.  Hayden Mallory – Archer Dill                 Ohio                                  0
Day 1: 5   09-09     Day 2: 5   05-00   Total:  10  14-09
9.  Vegas Iaconelli – Maxsim Hughen              Youth Division – NJ                   0
Day 1: 5   06-10     Day 2: 5   07-15   Total:  10  14-09
10. Kieran Stephenson – Grady Stanley            Fuquay Varina Middle School NC        0
Day 1: 5   05-00     Day 2: 5   09-05   Total:  10  14-05
11. Hunter Harrison – Austin Moreland            Magnet Cove AR                        0
Day 1: 2   01-05     Day 2: 5   12-13   Total:   7  14-02
12. River Huffman – Rob Barter                   Chatuge Anglers GA                    0
Day 1: 5   03-15     Day 2: 5   09-12   Total:  10  13-11
13. Karson Dick – Kipton Dick                    Wayne Middle WV                       0
Day 1: 5   04-03     Day 2: 5   09-02   Total:  10  13-05
14. Jaylin White – Colden Baker                  Lugoff-Elgin Middle SC                0
Day 1: 5   04-11     Day 2: 5   07-13   Total:  10  12-08
15. Sullivan Kraft – Beckett Kraft               Horseheads NY                         0
Day 1: 5   08-09     Day 2: 4   03-10   Total:   9  12-03
16. Judd Byrd – Samuel Nicholas                  Oak Grove MS                          0
Day 1: 5   04-05     Day 2: 4   07-13   Total:   9  12-02
17. Brody Kellum – Carson Thompson               Franklin County Middle School –       0
Day 1: 5   08-05     Day 2: 4   03-06   Total:   9  11-11
18. Camden Randall – Peyton Davidson             Mount Pleasant TN                     0
Day 1: 5   08-04     Day 2: 2   03-06   Total:   7  11-10
19. Landon Gabby – Carson Bruner                 Southern Illinois Future Anglers      0
Day 1: 3   02-07     Day 2: 1   08-03   Total:   4  10-10
20. Mitchell Henderson – Joseph Frierson         Laurence Manning Academy SC           0
Day 1: 5   05-04     Day 2: 3   05-01   Total:   8  10-05
21. Bryce Rhody – Gavin Brubaker                 Susquehanna Valley Fishing Team       0
Day 1: 1   00-14     Day 2: 5   09-05   Total:   6  10-03
22. Luke Stewart – Austin Craze                  Southern WV Jr Bassmasters            0
Day 1: 5   05-08     Day 2: 5   04-10   Total:  10  10-02
23. Zac Arnold – Ross Clark                      Good Hope Fishing Team AL             0
Day 1: 5   04-11     Day 2: 5   05-04   Total:  10  09-15
24. Christopher Volpe – Brayden Rivest           Off the Hook Bassmasters IL           0
Day 1: 5   06-07     Day 2: 4   03-03   Total:   9  09-10
25. Camdon Fauver – Thomas Newman                Frederick County BASS VA              0
Day 1: 5   04-07     Day 2: 5   05-02   Total:  10  09-09
26. Turner Tharpe – Blake James                  Rhea County Eagle Anglers TN          0
Day 1: 3   03-02     Day 2: 5   06-06   Total:   8  09-08
27. Tristan Stewart – DJ Johnson III             Mount Pleasant TN                     0
Day 1: 5   06-00     Day 2: 4   03-02   Total:   9  09-02
28. Cameron Prokop – Tommy Shumowsky             New Age Bass Fishing Club IL          0
Day 1: 5   04-10     Day 2: 5   04-08   Total:  10  09-02
29. Nolan Savage – Jake Paradis                  LA Jr Bassmasters ME                  0
Day 1: 5   04-06     Day 2: 5   04-11   Total:  10  09-01
30. Landon Pierce – Korbin Neat                  Casey County – KY                     0
Day 1: 5   03-14     Day 2: 5   04-15   Total:  10  08-13
31. Anderson Mesplay – Kelby Conrady             Mid-Kansas Kastmasters                0
Day 1: 3   06-06     Day 2: 2   02-06   Total:   5  08-12
32. Clayton Barry – Tanner Sikes                 Columbia High School FL               0
Day 1: 5   04-00     Day 2: 5   04-10   Total:  10  08-10
33. Caden Stevens – Hunter Crittenden            Franklin County Jr. Bass Team TN      0
Day 1: 5   04-10     Day 2: 5   04-00   Total:  10  08-10
34. Oliver Neumann – Grayden Neumann             Zimmerman MN                          0
Day 1: 5   04-02     Day 2: 5   04-04   Total:  10  08-06
35. Tugger McCuistion –                                                                0
Day 1: 0   00-00     Day 2: 3   08-03   Total:   3  08-03
36. Jesse Lancaster – Fisher Lancaster           Lancaster Academy NC                  0
Day 1: 4   03-12     Day 2: 5   04-06   Total:   9  08-02
36. Conner McClellan – Drew Mcclellan            Indiana Jr Bassmasters                0
Day 1: 5   04-06     Day 2: 4   03-12   Total:   9  08-02
38. Mason Samson –                               NH Junior Bassmasters                 0
Day 1: 4   04-03     Day 2: 5   03-15   Total:   9  08-02
39. Caleb Jackson – Evrett Hunter                Nassau Christian Bass Club FL         0
Day 1: 5   04-10     Day 2: 4   03-00   Total:   9  07-10
40. Maverick Hardebeck – Carson Tithof           Grand Haven Lakeshore Middle Sch      0
Day 1: 4   03-08     Day 2: 4   03-09   Total:   8  07-01
41. Wyatt Reynolds – Peyton Roland               Foothills Youth Anglers VA            0
Day 1: 5   05-14     Day 2: 1   00-14   Total:   6  06-12
42. Sawyer Knickerbocker – Grant Williams        SWLA Jr Anglers LA                    0
Day 1: 5   03-11     Day 2: 4   03-01   Total:   9  06-12
43. Beau McQuade – Kahl Cordell                  Jr. Potomac River Bassmasters PA      0
Day 1: 5   03-09     Day 2: 3   03-03   Total:   8  06-12
44. Jack Varnado – Dylan Johnson                 Jr. Southwest Bassmasters of Den      0
Day 1: 5   04-13     Day 2: 2   01-12   Total:   7  06-09
45. Parker Terrell –                             Port City Jr. Bassmasters NY          0
Day 1: 3   03-01     Day 2: 4   03-07   Total:   7  06-08
46. Ty Cooper – Landen Mclauchlin                Central Florida Youth Anglers         0
Day 1: 2   01-08     Day 2: 5   04-15   Total:   7  06-07
47. Boone Baxter – Hunter Stewart                Fort Jennings Crestview OH            0
Day 1: 5   06-00     Day 2: 5   00-06   Total:  10  06-06
48. Elijah Ambrose – Landon Hinkle               Jr. Potomac River Bassmasters PA      0
Day 1: 5   04-10     Day 2: 2   01-11   Total:   7  06-05
49. Foster Hall – Caden Hall                     Hall Academy KY                       0
Day 1: 5   05-02     Day 2: 1   01-01   Total:   6  06-03
50. Tucker Randolph – Kaleb Smarr                Warrensburg Middle School MO          0
Day 1: 4   04-01     Day 2: 2   01-11   Total:   6  05-12
51. Andy Stewart – Trenton Wells                 Pisgah MS                             0
Day 1: 4   03-14     Day 2: 2   01-13   Total:   6  05-11
52. James Barkley – Nikolas Foster               New Hampshire Junior Bassmasters      0
Day 1: 5   03-03     Day 2: 2   02-08   Total:   7  05-11
53. Bo Hollen – Ari Clark                        Mon Valley Bassmaster’s WV            0
Day 1: 5   04-01     Day 2: 1   01-01   Total:   6  05-02
54. Will Oberhoffer – Max Droessler              Roosevelt Middle School IA            0
Day 1: 3   02-08     Day 2: 3   02-09   Total:   6  05-01
55. Lawson Gamble – Gray Hardy                   Headland Bass Team AL                 0
Day 1: 2   01-13     Day 2: 4   03-03   Total:   6  05-00
56. Jonas Lawler-White – Cale Denney             Lansing Middle School – Bobcat B      0
Day 1: 3   02-03     Day 2: 3   02-04   Total:   6  04-07
57. Bryce Cast – Ayden Cast                      St. Louis Area Bassmasters IL         0
Day 1: 4   03-05     Day 2: 1   01-01   Total:   5  04-06
58. Jaxton Collier – Reece Roberts               South Side Anglers IN                 0
Day 1: 3   02-05     Day 2: 3   02-01   Total:   6  04-06
59. Charlie Brekke – Michael Putman              Fighting Fishsticks Jr Club CO        0
Day 1: 2   01-09     Day 2: 3   02-09   Total:   5  04-02
60. Peter Mcdonald – Preston Hartzell            Rocky Mountain High School – CO       0
Day 1: 4   03-03     Day 2: 1   00-12   Total:   5  03-15
61. Dylan Frickey – Reid Scott                   Ontario Juniors                       0
Day 1: 4   03-12     Day 2: 0   00-00   Total:   4  03-12
62. Brady Harrison – Bryce Blackmon              Cayuga  – TX                          0
Day 1: 1   00-06     Day 2: 2   01-14   Total:   3  02-04
63. Dillyn Dill – Andrew Knight                  Shelby County Jr Anglers AL           0
Day 1: 2   00-00     Day 2: 3   02-02   Total:   5  02-02
64. Bradie Talaski – Carter Osantowski           Bad Axe Junior – MI                   0
Day 1: 2   01-09     Day 2: 0   00-00   Total:   2  01-09
65. Liam Northway –                              Eastern Iowa Bassmasters              0
Day 1: 0   00-00     Day 2: 0   00-00   Total:   0  00-00
———————————————————————–
Totals
Day   #Limits    #Fish      Weight
1        38       264       283-06
2        25       229       295-12
———————————-
63       493       579-02

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