Trevor Yates wishes his classes at Little Axe High School were as interesting as bass fishing.
“School, that's not interesting, but fishing, I can sit there and listen for hours,” Yates said.
The 17-year-old junior already has quite the acumen for the sport, as evidenced by his victory in the Junior World Bassmaster Championship on the Arkansas River in Dardanelle, Ark., last weekend
Yates defeated his closest junior competitor (ages 15 to 18) by 4 pounds, despite not finding any bass in the same areas where he had when pre-fishing the river two weeks earlier.
“He had to figure out a whole different pattern,” said his father, Todd Yates. “He is that savvy.”
When he couldn't get a bite around the laydowns in the small creeks and backwater areas of the river as before, Trevor started fishing the main part of the river.
“I ended up finding them on channel swings, up next to the chunk rock bank,” he said.
Using a black buzz bait and a new squarebill crankbait (Chartreuse Sunrise Shad) from Livingston Lures, Trevor's five-fish stringer weighed 12 pounds, 14 ounces. He caught his two biggest fish (a 4-pounder and 3½-pounder) shortly before the weigh-in.
With the victory, Trevor won a $5,000 college scholarship and a Triton/Mercury aluminum bass boat.
He now has earned almost $10,000 in scholarships just through bass fishing.
“I just want to get to a college that has a fishing team,” Yates said.
Trevor got hooked on bass fishing at age 11 even though his dad was a pond hopper and not a tournament angler.
At a tackle show six years ago, Trevor entered a Bassmaster Casting Kids Contest. He won the contest and eventually became the Oklahoma state champion, earning him a trip to the national Casting Kids championship.
It was there Trevor learned of the B.A.S.S. Junior Bassmaster program after seeing kids from Oklahoma weighing in fish on stage.
When he returned to Oklahoma City, Trevor joined the North OKC Junior Bassmasters Club and started tournament fishing.
In the club, adult anglers mentor the kids and serve as boat captains in tournaments, but the junior anglers must make their own decisions about where to fish and what to fish.
“I learned a ton of stuff from every guy I went with,” he said.
Trevor later joined the Stillwater Junior Bassmasters Club because he wanted to learn how to fish lakes in northern Oklahoma as well the lakes frequented by the North OKC Bassmasters Club.
Now, he is competing against adult anglers in the B.A.S.S. Nation and holding his own, finishing 19th from a field of 65 this past season.
“My dream is to become a professional angler and pretty much make a living off of fishing,” he said.