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Area teens capture youth bass state title

By John Hartsock

jhartsock@altoonamirror.com

A pair of 13-year-old Bedford County fishermen, Alex Fitzpatrick and Ander Cowan, recently won the Bass Nation Youth State Junior Championship and will represent the state of Pennsylvania in the national tournament this fall.

Fitzpatrick, who is an eighth-grade student in the Chestnut Ridge School District, and Cowan, a seventh-grade student in the Everett Area School District, caught two largemouth bass weighing a total of 8.1 pounds to win the junior title on Sunday, April 3 on Pinchot Lake near Harrisburg.

Fitzpatrick fooled a 5.4-pound bass in the middle of the lake that walloped his artificial jerkbait lure and put up a 30-second fight before Fitzpatrick, Cowan, and Fitzpatrick’s father, John, who was driving their Ranger Bass Boat, were able to pull the fish in.

“It knocked the jerkbait completely sideways but it didn’t take that long to get it into the net on the boat,” Alex said. “It’s really exciting to win this tournament and go to the national tournament.”

The bass that Cowan caught weighed 2.7 pounds, and the pair’s 8.1-pound total fish weight enabled them to take first place in the competition, which involved two-person teams of 18 fishermen ages 13-and-under occupying nine boats.

The weather and water were both chilly at Pinchot Lake for the junior championship event.

“The water temperature was only in the mid-40s – 46 to 48 degrees – and the air temperature was cold as well,” John Fitzpatrick said.

It was hardly ideal fishing weather, but the two youngsters prevailed.

“The fishing wasn’t really that good that day,” Cowan said. “I think the weather probably had something to do with it. I feel proud to have helped my fishing partner get the winning weight for our team.

“It’s exciting to be going on to the national tournament,” Cowan added. “This will be a great opportunity for my fishing career.”

There is no date set yet for the national tournament, but John Fitzpatrick said that it will be held in October in the state of Tennessee.

Alex Fitzpatrick and Ander Cowan have only been fishing together since last September. In October, they won the Last Chance Bass Tournament at Shawnee Lake in Bedford County, taking first place in a field that also included both high school (ninth grade and up) fishing teams andjunior level (eighth grade and under) teams.

Participating in the Last Chance Tournament qualified the pair for the state junior tournament.

“You have to fish these events with a partner,” John Fitzpatrick said. “The hardest thing is to find a kid of that age who is into bass fishing and can fish for seven or eight hours.

“We couldn’t find any other kids from Chestnut Ridge who were interested in fishing, but we put feelers out and found the kid from Everett who was looking for a partner as well,” John Fitzpatrick added. “This is only the second tournament that these two kids have fished together, and they’ve won them both.”

The national event will pose an even bigger challenge, but John Fitzpatrick believes that the two youngsters will be ready to successfully compete.

“It will be a little tougher to win nationals, but I think they’re both good anglers, so they have an opportunity to win it,” John said.

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