The Arkansas chapter of The Bass Federation held its 2011 youth championship fishing tournament Saturday on Lake DeGray.
Brandon Slaughter, 18, of Bauxite placed fourth in the senior division for 15-18 year olds. He is the son of Denita and Tony Slaughter.
Ron Knight, Arkansas TBF vice president and youth director, described Slaughter as an â€śexcellent fisherman.â€ť
Slaughterâ€™s father said, â€śHe loves to fish.â€ť
â€śHeâ€™s been fishing with me ever since he was about five years old, and heâ€™s been entering tournaments since he was about 12 or 13.â€ť
This was Slaughterâ€™s fourth time to fish the Arkansas TBF Youth Championship.
â€śHe hasnâ€™t won it, but heâ€™s come real close,â€ť he said.
Slaughter is a founding member of the Spa City Junior Bass Hunters, which Knight created in 2006 and is comprised of youths from all over Central Arkansas.
â€śWeâ€™ve got some kids from Hot Springs, Benton and Little Rock, and all the way to Hope and Greenbrier,â€ť Knight said.
â€śItâ€™s exciting to see them do well.â€ť
Mitchell Thompson of Hot Springs â€” Slaughterâ€™s best friend â€” won the senior division with a total weight of 17 pounds, seven ounces. Samuel Scott. also of Hot Springs, won the junior division (11-14) with a total weight of 10 pounds, six ounces.
Both first-place winners also captured the tournamentâ€™s Big Bass Awards.
Knight said first-place winners received a rod from Denali Rods, along with tackle boxes. Slaughter and the other top-four contestants also won prizes, including several tackles.
â€śNo one went away with nothing,â€ť Knight said. â€śAll won something, which had a value of more that $25. That way everyone felt a sense of accomplishment.
â€śThey will be back to fish and to compete in the next championship.â€ť
In all, this yearâ€™s youth tournament featured 63 competitors from across Arkansas, up from 26 in 2010. Since the first tournament was held five years ago, Knight said its popularity has increased.
â€śAnd I think itâ€™s just going to keep growing,â€ť he said.
Knight credits TBFâ€™s increased popularity to its Student Anger Federation, in which TBF helps create and develop fishing programs at high schools.
The winners of the senior and junior divisions are now qualified to compete in the National Guard Junior World Championship in Hot Springs, which will be held in mid-August, Knight said. It is being held in conjunction with the Forrest Wood Cup Tournament, a professional tournament featuring a $1 million grand prize also being held in Hot Springs.
The Cup tournament will be held on Lake Ouachita. The site for the junior tournament is â€śstill up in the air,â€ť Knight said.