Tacoma, Washington – Triumphantly hoisting up the 2022 Bassmaster Junior National Championship trophy has “definitely been the most memorable moment so far” of young anglers Mark Cerja, Jr. and Gus Richardson’s fishing careers, they told Gamakatsu USA’s sales manager, Ted Thibault, in a recent interview.
The newly-titled Junior Bassmaster National Champions are members of the Lone Star Junior Bassmasters from Texas. They were among the 65 teams from around the country that competed for the Bassmaster Junior National Championship title last month at the Carroll County 1000 Acre Recreational Lake in Huntingdon, TN. Each team consisted of two junior anglers and one adult boat captain.
The 14-year-olds have only been paired as a team since June, but they beat the competition throughout the grueling two-day tournament with a winning weight 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 thankful to be able to go to Nationals and go up against the best in the country and to be able to work on my skills,” said Richardson. Richardson, “primarily self-taught,” began fishing at about age 5 in the rivers of South Texas. “Catching fish in rivers is hard,” he said, “but it was good practice to set me up for tournament fishing.” Since his move to the DFW area about a year ago, Richardson most frequently fishes from the bank in ponds near his home.
Cerja, who has been fishing under the experienced guidance of his father since age 2, said, “I kept my confidence up, and it took a lot of grind to bring home the win. “I was always taught to fish hard, never give up, never sit down,” he said. “It’s my passion and what I want to do. I’m addicted to the sport, and the sport is just exploding. I love fishing for largemouth bass because they’re a tough fish to catch, and they take the most skill.” Cerja credits Gamakatsu’s hooks with helping him land bass in even the most challenging and thickest cover. “I love froggin’ and flippin’, and sometimes you’re pulling 20 pounds of muck and fish, and that Gamakatsu hook never bends out; it stays sharp, and it stays pinned every time. It’s the best hook on the market.”
“My favorite lure is the fluke with the Gamakatsu hook,” said Richardson. You can catch fish anywhere on a fluke. I caught a 50lb catfish, and the hook didn’t bend out at all! I couldn’t believe it. I also got snagged 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 think 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 topic for both Richardson and Cerja, as well as encouraging others to be environmentally conscious. “Keeping the water in our lakes, rivers, and tributaries clean for the future generations to fish and for the bass, too, is very important,” said Richardson.
Both Cerjas and Richardson hope to pursue future careers as professional anglers. With the 2022 Bassmaster Junior National Title in hand, they’re well on their way to achieving that goal. “You’re going to do great things in this business,” Thibault told the team.
Gamakatsu hooks are manufactured from a premium grade of high carbon steel, which has fewer impurities and allows for a more robust, smaller wire. A unique tempering process enables the production of consistently high-quality, durable, and sharp hooks, many of which are available in colors to match any lure or bait. Gamakatsu’s commitment to continually research and develop new and better styles of hooks has led to innovative designs such as the “EWG” (extra-wide gap) hooks, which hook and hold fish better, TGW (tournament-grade wire) for their G-series hooks, as well as a superior conically-shaped needle-honed point that stays sharp. Gamakatsu is known worldwide as the first choice for anglers looking for the finest fish hooks.
From humble beginnings as Japan’s smallest fishing hook manufacturer in 1955, Gamakatsu® Ltd has evolved to become the world’s preeminent hook manufacturer. Over the years, manufacturing upgrades and cutting-edge innovations have fueled Gamakatsu® USA’s rise as a top producer of fishing hooks, apparel, and fishing related items. When anglers purchase Gamakatsu® hooks, they are buying an original product made exclusively by Gamakatsu®. Gamakatsu® is continuously testing new materials and striving to improve their products, which already sets the standard for the rest of the industry.