Local pair team up to become champions
NAUGATUCK — Bass Master Nation introduced a new high school division this year and two local fishermen wasted no time making a splash.
The duo of Naugatuck resident Noah Winslow and Oxford resident Doug Marino won the Connecticut State Championship to advance to the national competition in Paris, Tenn. in July.
The pair teamed up to represent Nonnewaug High School in Woodbury. After winning the state championship, they finished in the semifinals of the national competition.
Winslow, who is in his fifth year competing in the Bass Master tournaments, is a two-time Connecticut state champion in the junior division. Last year he finished second in the nation at the Bass Master National Championship held in Russellville, Ark.
“I met Doug over the winter and told him about the new high school division and asked if he would be interested in teaming up with me,” Winslow said. “Doug has the same passion as I do for fishing and I thought we would make a good team together.”
They won the state championship and competed in four tournaments to qualify for nationals in Tennessee. Winslow has an 18-foot Nitro boat equipped with a 150hp Mercury motor, and his experience over the past five years gave the pair a leg up on the competition.
“It’s obvious that Noah has the skills, experience, and love of fishing that he has a shot at one day being a professional in the sport,” Marino said. “This being my first year I really didn’t know what to expect. Some tournaments were tougher than others, but we just kept getting better and better. Actually I was surprised at how well we did.”
Marino, a senior at Nonnewaug, now is hooked and plans on continuing his association with the Bass Masters. He has his sights set on furthering his education in the field of diesel mechanics, but is also looking forward to competing again in another fishing tournament.
Bass Master Nation has numerous scholarship opportunities for students looking to continue their education. At the nationals this year, a total of $66,000 in scholarships was awarded.
Winslow earned a $2,000 scholarship last year for his second place finish at nationals. The Nonnewaug sophomore has been around the sport of fishing since he was 2 years old, learning from his parents Keith and Chris. His 10-year-old sister Saige was a state champion three years ago in her age bracket, as fishing is a family affair.
“I did a lot of research before we left for Tennessee,” Winslow said. “I looked over maps to study the contours of the lake trying to find out where the hot spots were. Kentucky Lake is a part of the Tennessee River and there were 60 boats out there competing.”
After two days of competition Winslow and Marino found out at the weigh-in that they made the final 30 teams that would move on to the final round. With a catch of 19 pounds, 12 ounces the pair placed 16th among the finalists. There is a five-fish limit with a requirement of fish being at least 15 inches.
“That was the largest lake I ever fished on,” said Marino, talking about the 163,000-acre Kentucky Lake. “We landed a few fish early on that weren’t the legal size but I finally landed our first keeper and that was exciting.
“When it finally hits you that you are in a national tournament it’s pretty intimidating. But having Noah there with his experience we settled in and had a good day of fishing.”
The pair finished up in the semifinals, but the fishing expedition is far from over.
In September the duo will be competing in the Eastern Division Championship on the St. Lawrence River. Three other state tournaments will also be on the agenda before they set their sights on the 2015 season.