Wesley Russell was born a fisherman. His father, Don, gave him a rod-and-reel when he was born and destiny was fulfilled when Wesley recently became the Texas State Champion of Bassmaster Casting Kids at the age of six.
The tournament trail began on Lake Conroe in August at the annual Lake Conroe Take-A-Kid-Fishing Tournament, held in conjunction with Bassmaster. Don says the family had participated, had fun, and then came home only to get a call from Bassmaster saying that Wesley had won first place in the Big Bass and Biggest Stringer competitions and Wesley’s sister, Angela, had won second place. Valuable prizes were awarded to both the children.
Wesley was then eligible to compete in Bassmasters Regional Finals in Tomball, held at an Academy store, where he won first place again and Angela again won second place. Both of the Russell children earned the opportunity to compete in the Texas State Champion Bassmasters Casting Kids Finals in Dallas, where Wesley again won first place.
Wesley competes in the same class as his sister, who is eight. He competes in the seven to ten year age group, against children with much better motor skills, but Wesley still shines brightly. Don attributes this to his upbringing. “Wesley always liked to fish, always liked to cast,” his father says. Don’s parenting methods are clear and simple. “If you spend more time with your kids and teach ‘em to fish,” he says, “they’re more likely to hold a fishing rod in their hands in their later years than a gun.”
The state competition for the best “Casting Kid” in Texas .was held in Dallas at the Dallas Convention Center and contestants were judged in three categories: flipping from 10 feet, pitching from 20 feet, and casting from 30 feet. Wesley placed #1 in all three categories.
The next stop for Wesley will be the semi-finals to be held in Shreveport, Louisiana, on
May 2-4. If Wesley again scores as he’s expected to, he will go to the national competition at the Bassmaster Classic in Birmingham, Alabama, August 7-9.
The same three categories of flipping, pitching, and casting will be judged in the semi-finals and the nationals and Wesley is ready for all three trials. He uses a paper mark to aim at when casting, and he is practicing, although he never saw the paper mark when he started his glory trail on Lake Conroe. The contestants get two practice throws in each category and two point throws. The best of the two point throws is taken as the child’s score. For never having laid eyes on the target before and not being able to practice, Wesley and Angela both did very well.
Don’t worry that all the fishing honors are going to Wesley’s head, either. Wesley is in the first grade at Mel Parmley Elementary and a straight “A” student, just as his sister, a 3rd-grader, is a straight “A” student.
We’ll be waiting to hear more from Wesley and we wish him all the best in Louisiana and Alabama in the coming months. – Lake Mohave
– Lake Mohave