Craig resident Andy Whilden makes the big time every year the Craig Bass Club holds a casting competition for kids ages 7 through 14.
The program is Casting For Kids, and is designed to get more kids into the sport of fishing.
For the fourth year in a row, Whilden has won the Craig title in his age group and moved on to the state level. He has also won the state title in his age group four years in a row. The state champions advance to a regional competition where they have the opportunity to qualify for a national title.
This year, the regional Casting For Kids competition was held April 28 in Mobile, Ala. Whilden, along with youth from the nine other western states vied for the one spot that would advance on to nationals to compete against the four other regional winners.
Out of about 150,000 youth nationwide, 94 competed in Mobile, and only five in each of two age groups go to the national level.
Whilden had some tough competition. The first competitor from Arizona scored 130 out of a possible 150. The second participant, who was from California, threw a 140.
The pressure was on Whilden, who competed last and had to beat a score of 140.
He stepped up to the first line, which was 10 feet from a target with a 6-inch bulls eye. Each target has rings that start at 20 points on the outside and decrease in 6 inch intervals. The points increase as the rings get smaller, with the center being worth 50 points.
Whilden hit a 50 and moved back to the line at 20 feet. He had the chance to take two practice throws and then two that counted, keeping the score for the higher of the two. Whilden hit a 40 on his first score, regrouped, and nailed the 50 on the second.
He moved back to 30 feet, having already earned a score of 100. On his next cast, Whilden earned 40 points.
He was least tied for first with one more throw to go.
As he prepared for his last cast, his parents held their breaths. It was a perfect bulls eye, bringing his total to 150 points.
Of the 94 youth who competed, only three scored 150 points.
Whilden won the right to represent the 10 Western States at the Bassmasters Classic, known as the Super Bowl of fishing, Aug. 3 in New Orleans, La. He will receive an all expense-paid trip for himself and his family and at least a $500 college scholarship. The first place-prize is a $5,000 scholarship.