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Ty Stroup and Dan Walter got off to a good start at the Bass Federation Pa. State Championship, hooking several fish early Sunday on Lake Oneida in Brewerton, New York.“I was pretty confident after we caught a few,” Stroup said.Stroup and Walter, both rising seniors at Mifflinburg High, caught three largemouth bass in the 2.5-pound range, but they were just warming up. The fourth bass they caught weighed 5.57 pounds. “We got that one and I felt good,” Walter said. “From there, we had to just keep on chugging.”Stroup and Walter finished with a total weight of 13.64 pounds for their five-fish limit, good enough for them to claim the state championship.The duo qualified for the 2022 TBF National Championship to be held on Lake Pickwick in Alabama.It was the second state title for Stroup and Walter — they also won the Pa. Bass Nation High School State Championship in 2018 — and clinched their third trip to a national tournament.Scouting the localeStroup said they felt they had to chance to win heading into the tournament, but “you don’t really know until you all weigh the fish at the end.”One of the keys to a successful haul is finding the right spot to fish. Walter and his father went to Lake Oneida before the tournament to check the conditions.“We ran across the big part of the lake and it was pretty rough,” Walter said. “My dad and I weren’t sure about it.”However, after some more investigation, they found a spot where a river fed into the lake.“We figured that was better,” Walter said. “We have a river near our house, so we were used to that setting.”Having a good spot doesn’t always equal success, but it did this time.“If it turns out to be a dry spot, you have to try to find a spot that’s luckier,” Stroup said. “At the entrance to the river, we were able to find a few fish, hook into them and get a decent bag.”‘You’ve got to enjoy yourself’
Another key to successful fishing in a tournament is sticking with what you know.“I always start with baits I know how to fish best, that I’m more used to,” Walter said. “There’s a bait called Z-Man TRD, and I usually always start with that. I cast it out, let it sit, ripped it through the grass, and caught a couple.”While the duo has been remarkably successful, fishing — even competitively — is more about fun than winning.“If ya ain’t having fun, ya might as well quit,” Walter said.“Throughout the day, we like to joke around,” Stroup said. “We take it serious, but we try to lighten the mood and keep it light.“It’s just like any other sport, you’ve got to enjoy yourself.”Stroup said the pair hasn’t performed well at tournaments when they were stressed compared to tournaments where they enjoyed themselves.Walter said another key was not to give up if the going is slow.“You just never know,” he said. “You could always get five fish in your next five casts if you hit the right stretch.”National event a testStroup and Walter have previously attended national events in South Carolina and Tennessee.“For us, it’s very different,” Walter said, comparing state and national events. “We only have 20 boats at most (at states), but at nationals, there’s 400 or so boats.”That higher number of boats means a slight change of strategy is needed.“With that many boats, if you find a spot you like, there are 399 other boats that might want the same spot,” Stroup said. “That means you have to try to find more than one spot. That’s the No. 1 thing that’s different.”Both Stroup and Walter enjoyed fishing as a pastime as youngsters, and Walter competed in tournaments with his father.When they were in eighth grade, Walter asked Stroup to team up. Stroup agreed, and they’ve had plenty of success on the water from there.
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