Triumphantly lifting the 2022 Junior Bassmaster National Championship trophy has been “definitely the most memorable moment yet” in the fishing careers of young anglers Mark Cerja, Jr. and Gus Richardson, Gamakatsu USA sales manager Ted Thibault, in a recent interview.
The newly titled Junior Bassmaster National Champions are members of the Lone Star Junior Bassmasters of Texas. They were among 65 teams from across the country that competed for the Junior Bassmaster National Championship title last month at Carroll County’s 1,000-acre recreational lake in Huntingdon, TN. Each team consisted of two junior fishermen and one adult boat captain.
The 14-year-olds have only been paired as a team since June, but they beat the competition during the grueling two-day tournament at a winning catchweight of 18 pounds, 5 ounces. Bassmaster rewarded them with a $2000.00 scholarship, which they will share.
Cerja’s father, Mark Cerja, Sr., rounded out the winning crew as captain. “I was very grateful to be able to go to Nationals and face the best in the country and to be able to work on my skills,” Richardson said. “Mostly self-taught,” Richardson began fishing around the age of 5 in the rivers of South Texas. “Catching fish in rivers is hard,” he said, “but it was good practice to prepare for a fishing tournament.” Since he moved to the DFW area about a year ago, Richardson fishes more frequently from the shore in ponds near his home.
Cerja, who has been fishing under the experienced guidance of his father since he was 2 years old, said: “I kept my confidence and it took a lot of work to bring home the victory. “I was always taught to fish hard, never give up, never sit back,” she said. “It is my passion and what I want to do. I am addicted to sports, and sports are exploding. I love fishing for largemouth bass because it is a difficult fish to catch and requires a lot of skill.” Cerja credits Gamakatsu’s hooks with helping him land bass in even the thickest, most challenging coverage. “I love frogs and flips, and sometimes you throw 20 pounds of dung and fish, and that Gamakatsu hook never bends; he stays sharp and stays nailed the entire time. It is the best hook on the market.”
“My favorite lure is the fluke with the Gamakatsu hook,” Richardson said. You can fish anywhere with a tail fin. I caught a 50 pound catfish and the hook didn’t bend at all! I could not believe it. I also got caught on a log during a competition, and Mr. Cerja told me to check my hook, and the Gamakatsu hook was still just as sharp and I could continue fishing with it. That’s pretty impressive. I believe that the hooks you use are just as crucial as the rods, reels and lures you use, and Gamakatsu are the best hooks in the world, in my opinion.”
Recruiting more anglers to grow and sustain the sport of fishing is an important issue for both Richardson and Cerja, as well as encouraging others to be environmentally conscious. “It is very important to keep the water in our lakes, rivers and tributaries clean for future generations to fish and also for bass,” Richardson said.
Both Cerjas and Richardson hope to pursue future careers as professional fishermen. With the 2022 Junior Bassmaster National title in hand, they are well on their way to achieving that goal. “They are going to do great things in this business,” Thibault told the team.
Gamakatsu hooks are made from a superior grade of high carbon steel, which has fewer impurities and allows for a smaller, stronger wire. A unique tempering process allows for the production of high quality, durable, sharp hooks, many of which are available in colors to match any lure or bait. Gamakatsu’s commitment to continually researching and developing new and better hook styles has led to innovative designs such as “EWG” (Extra Wide Gap) hooks, which hook and hold fish better, TGW (Tournament Grade Wire) for their G-series hooks, as well as a tapered top needle point that stays sharp. Gamakatsu is known around the world as the first choice for anglers looking for the best hooks.
From humble beginnings as Japan’s smallest fishing hook manufacturer in 1955, Gamakatsu® Ltd has evolved to become the world’s leading hook manufacturer. Over the years, manufacturing upgrades and cutting-edge innovations have fueled Gamakatsu® USA’s rise as a leading producer of fishing hooks, apparel, and fishing-related items.
When anglers buy Gamakatsu® hooks, they are buying an original product made exclusively by Gamakatsu®. Gamakatsu® continually tests new materials and strives to improve its products, already setting the standard for the rest of the industry.
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