Thursday, August 16, 2018

McKinney and Wijangco Jr. Bassmaster Champions from Illinois Talk On the Water Advice

Carter Wijangco (left) and Trey McKinney showing off their bass at the National Championship
Photo provided by: Jill Wijangco

By: Michael Rasmussen 
Published August 16, 2018

Springfield, IL-- Fishing is a mental sport. It's not like football or baseball or basketball. It's a head game and those who have a strong mind can become strong anglers. And in this sport, you can't take your frustration out on the next cast or to the next spot. 

Don't get me wrong, of course it takes skill to be a successful angler, but being on the water and being able to brush past the snags, the birdsnests, and the fish that got away, takes perseverance. I have been there, on the water, fishing in a tournament and nothing is going my way. Whether it be losing tackle, snagging or your line issues. Being able to push past all of that and continue pushing towards your goal of catching keeper fish takes practice. Like I said, its all mental.

This sport has taken off and many high school and junior high school students are getting involved and it is growing bigger each year. I had the privilege of talking with two of those young anglers who tackled the game of fishing in tournaments and came out on top bringing the Jr. Bassmaster Championship to Illinois, a state where some say the fisheries are lacking compared to other states.

Rick Cheatham (left) , Trey McKinney (center) and Carter Wijangco wiht their National Championship Trophies
Photo provided by Jill Wijanco 

Early this season, Trey McKinney (age 13) and Carter Wijangco (age 14) fished in the Jr. Bassmaster Division held at Lake Springfield for the Illinois Bass Nation Jr. State Finals.   Carter took second place with 5 fish for 7.53 lbs. And Trey was the State Champion, winning with 5 fish for 10.36 lbs and big bass of the tournament at 2.56 lbs. These wins secured their spots for the Jr. Bassmaster Championship in Tennessee.

Their final weight for the Jr. Bassmaster Championship was 17lbs 6 ounces, which secured them their Championship title by only an ounce. Fishing numerous baits, throughout the day and during practice, they kept their heads down and used the experience from last years championship, held on the same lake, to push them ahead.

And they didn't stop there. Trey McKinney went on to fish the FLW Bass Federation World Junior Championship at Arkansas’ Lake Hamilton and won that title as well.

The championship wins are a great accomplishment for these two, but what is also important is the behind the scenes, the mental game and the learning experience. These two young anglers had great advice for battling the waters, which transcends generations and even got me thinking.

Carter, who is going to be a high school angler next year, is excited to enter the realm of high school fishing and he knows it will be a challenge.  His advice to new and old anglers was simple:

"Every time you go out on the water, try and learn something new. " Carter said.  "If you keep learning, you will be better every time you go out on the water.  And if you always just throw a swim jig, you won't really learn how anything else fishes."

This really struck me because, how many anglers out there get in this rut, where they catch fish on this one lure and then think that every single time they go out they have to throw that lure.  And not only that, fish the same spot where they caught that monster 5 years ago.

Trey, an 8th grader who has one more year before high school, said that he is "going to put his head down and fish"  his last year in the juniors.  "Confidence is key," he said. "if you don't have the confidence, it will hurt the way you fish."

Their fishing season is winding down and Carter, a wrestler will be entering that sport this winter.  Both Trey and Carter love the outdoors, and as hunting season approaches they both will be getting ready to enter the field. 

With all sports, there are many people behind the champions.  We spoke with both Carter and Trey's mom and asked what this meant to them as parents.

It means "that there is a finally a payoff for the hard work." Jill Wijangco, Carter's mother said.  "All the times, I have driven him to ponds and tournaments.  It made me think back on all the tournaments and that it was great to finally get the recognition. My dad got Carter into fishing and he passed away three years ago.  I hope that he was looking down from above."

Kim McKinney, Trey's mother said that,  "It was like a dream come true.  We are not a fishing family.  We are a horsing family. We didn't have anyone that fished.  We kept trying to stay positive and prayed that someone would come and help Trey.  He put all the work in.  He is like sponge, always absorbing things.  It has just been a dream.  It has opened so many doors.  It is just like wow.  It has all come from God, opening and closing doors and meeting the right people."

A big thank you to all the parents and supporters of youth in fishing.  Many kids today are more focused on technology and far too many have their heads stuck on the screen rather than outdoors.  We commend these young anglers for branching out and succeeding in an unconventional sport.

Whether you are just getting into the sport or fishing tournaments as a pro, take what these young champion anglers have said to heart.  Confidence and continuously learning are two top things for every angler to achieve.   You are never too young or too old to learn something new from someone either younger or older than you. When I first started writing this article it was going to be about what these two anglers caught their fish on or how the tournament went, but after talking with them they have inspired me and I will always try and remember their advice while out on the water.

Congratulations Carter and Trey and we look forward to covering some of the tournaments you will fish in next year.


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