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Boy casts way to semifinals

May 07, 2001

Boy casts way to semifinals



By ANDREA BROWN-HURLEY

andreabh@herald-mail.com

Jessey FlowersPhoto: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer

Jessey Flowers has pitch, flip and cast down to a secret science.

For the second year in a row, the 10-year-old fifth grade student at Conococheague Elementary School used angling techniques he won't divulge to win the BASS Masters CastingKids state championship and the chance to compete in the national semifinals.

"A lot of practice - that's the only secret I'll give away," Jessey said.

He won the title of CastingKids state champion in February after completing a string of competitions that began with the Clear Spring Carnival last August, said Jim Kline, immediate past president of the Maryland Bass Federation.

Jessey, who lives in Highland Manor west of Hagerstown, traveled to Mobile, Ala., in late April for the regional casting meet. He was accompanied by his parents, Rick and Chris Flowers, and Kline.

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Based on the old National Football League's punt, pass and kick events, the BASS Masters CastingKids program began in 1991 and is open to young people in two age groups, 7-10 and 11-14.

The CastingKids' challenges are to pitch, flip and cast.

Using the three different angling techniques while standing in lanes at varying distances from a target, contest participants try to land their lures in the bull's-eye.

"It's really tough," Kline said. "Some professional fisherman can't believe how good these kids are."

Last July, Jessey won the national CastingKids competition in the 7-to-10 age group at the 30th Annual BASS Masters Classic in Chicago.

He had to compete in the 11-to-14 age group this year because his birthday is in August. Jessey pitted his casting skills against 12 other youngsters from Maine to Virginia at the regional meet in Alabama.

"It was a nail-biter," Chris Flowers said. "I couldn't watch."

"I was praying," added Rick Flowers, who videotaped the event.

While his folks watched with bated breath, Jessey was calm and cool, they said.

He had spent months aiming his lure at a target on the kitchen floor and getting casting pointers from his father, who first took him fishing when he was 17 months old. Jessey also put his techniques to the test on the water as a member of the Junior Potomac River BASS Masters, he said.

Standing amidst hundreds of spectators and the BASS Masters Classic judges, he kept his mind clear to focus on the bulls-eye, he said.

Jessey didn't hook a win at this year's contest, but he had a great time.

He chatted with top-notch bass fisherman, collected autographs and visited a hands-on science center called the Exploratorium.

He said he's relished the opportunity to travel and win "free stuff" on the CastingKids circuit. Jessey took home a gold medallion and new rod and reel from Alabama. He earned a $5,000 scholarship, gold belt buckle and other prizes for his national win last July.

"It was like Christmas in Chicago," he said.

Jessey said he plans to qualify for the 2002 CastingKids competitions by capturing another win at this summer's Clear Spring Carnival.

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