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062322 boots bradyBrady Mikes (left) Boots Burleson (right)

 

By Jan White
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The Youth Fishing League [YFL] is a tournament circuit dedicated to teaching young anglers sportsmanship and self-confidence while strengthening their skills and providing them with good clean, competitive fun.

This year, two young men from Houston County have risen in the ranks to compete for the National YFL title. Boots Burleson, 14, son of John Michael and Haley Burleson, and Brady Mikes, age 15, son of Ryan and Jaimee Mikes, will travel to Lake Hartwell in South Carolina in August as Bassmaster Anglers in the nationwide competition.

Boots and Brady started fishing in January 2020 as a team in the YFL. They had several first-place finishes, and Brady ended the season with the Angler of the Year award. In 2020-21, the boys joined the Deep East Texas High School fishing League. Although they were Junior Anglers competing against high schoolers, they ended up in the top 30% by the end of the season. That same year, Boots and Brady fished the Jr. High Bassmaster State Championship Tournament.

They won first place on Lake Belton, sending them to the National Jr. High Bassmaster Championship tournament on Carroll County Thousand Acre Lake in Huntingdon, Tennessee, where they placed 38th in the nation.

The energy continued into 2021-22 when the boys achieved a first-place win in the high school division. Out of seven tournaments with 120 teams, the duo placed in five of those tournaments, where they ranked third place overall for the year and qualified for the Bassmaster High School National Championship.

As many as 275 high school teams are expected to compete for the high school championship crown. Each two-angler team is accompanied by a coach who runs the boat and can give advice on fishing techniques and patterns. Neil Paul, executive director of Visit Anderson, host of the event, said, “The youth angler is our future.”

If that’s the case, with Boots and Brady representing Houston County’s youth, the future of fishing looks pretty bright.

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