Jonathan Ladner and fishing partner today, Luke Loewe, were on the money. The pair swept the field to be crowned 2013 Junior World Champions. Ladner took the title in the 15-18 age group and Loewe in the 11-14.
TBF Junior State Champions traveled from across the US for the 2013 Junior World Championship, presented by FLW. Several were hitting big in practice but by day one the bite vanished. Today, twelve division champions hoped for a chance on Caddo Lake in Bossier City, La. But, it was yesterday’s third place anglers, boat three, that put it all together.
Ladner from Thorofare, N.J., caught three bass weighing 5lbs 15ounces. Ladner is the state champion of the New Jersey Bass Federation, and after yesterday’s finish, holds the Mid-Atlantic Division title.
Ladner said most of their big fish were caught on a morning bite, save one that made all the difference.
“About five minutes before we were heading back I was going to give up,” Ladner continued. “I had one last cast. They were looking at the map when I pulled up and set the hook; I had 4lbs 13ounces on there.”
His last minute catch put him over the top for the win. “I learned just don’t give up, keep fishing. Fish every minute without being late, and keep your head up.”
This is Ladners third attempt at the national title with a third place finish the first year and a blank the second. “It means everything to me to finally win it. For months, I’ve been dead nervous. I mean the nerves are flying down here. It’s all a big adventure really; I love doing it.”
“It’s the first time I’ve ever seen this type of fishing; I just had to learn and adapt,” Loewe said. “After a tough day Friday, I went out and had more knowledge of the lake. I caught one small one early, but it felt good because it was my first keeper.”
For most anglers, both the unfamiliarity of structures like cyprus trees and lily pads, and the new experience of fishing Caddo Lake, made adjusting key this week.
“I had some challenges. I lost some real good fish because I had light line. Up North that’s what we use,” Loewe continued. “So, line adjustment was key for me. I also learned how to fish cyprus trees; I’ve never even seen those before.”
Loewe started tournament fishing after his dad started a youth club last year. Since then, he’s become a state and division champion, and now he’s won his first national event. Loewe accredits much of his success to his huge support system. “I just want to thank those guys for coming the 13 ½ hours. I want to thank my dad for teaching me to fish, my boat captain, all my sponsors and thank God for blessing me with being able to catch a couple fish.”
Ladner and Loewe, were a fantastic duo today but claimed they were more like a trio. They gave their boat captain a lot of praise for setting the mood on the water. “If you are in a good mood you are going to catch fish,” Ladner said. “She kept us in a good mood all day.”
“That’s the most fun I think I’ve ever had fishing,” Loewe chimed in.
“I told them as long as you’re fishing, always have fun,” their boat captain, “Ms. Penny,” said. “When you stop having fun, it’s time to stop fishing.”