Monday, December 11, 2023

Yavorsky becomes youngest Classic qualifier with Classic Fish-Off win

By Andrew Canulette 


LEESBURG, Fla. — Aaron Yavorsky could have idled inside the Venetian Gardens Marina all day Saturday and still won the 2023 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Team Championship Classic Fish-Off
Following the 30-pound, 7-ounce limit of five bass he weighed on Day 1, Yavorsky caught another limit Saturday, this one weighing 17-13. And though his final bag was the lightest he caught this week, it absolutely was more than enough to secure the Fish-Off title with a two-day weight of 48-4.

It was as commanding a win as one could imagine in a tournament of this magnitude. Second place went to Connor Nimrod of the Media Bass Trail in north Louisiana, who caught 25-14 over two days, more than 22 pounds behind Yavorsky.

The decisive victory earned Yavorsky the final berth into the 2024 Bassmaster Classic, which will be held March 22-24 on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees. He is the youngest person to ever qualify for the Classic, a distinction previously owned by David Brind of New York, who was 18 when he worked his way through the former B.A.S.S. Federation (now the B.A.S.S. Nation) to land a spot in the 1979 Classic on Lake Texoma. 

Yavorsky will turn 18 on March 15, a week before his sport’s biggest event begins.

“I’ve never been to Oklahoma,” he said. “I’ve never even been to a Classic either, though I’ve watched them on live TV for a long time. I don’t know what to say about making it. I’m kind of speechless right now.”

Yavorsky let his fishing do the talking on the Harris Chain of Lakes instead. He stormed to a nearly 16-pound advantage on Day 1 of the Fish-Off with a 30-7 limit. That whopping bag certainly took some of the pressure off the young Palm Harbor, Fla., resident, but he knew his fellow competitors wouldn’t just hand him the title. He proved twice earlier in the tournament that 30-pound sacks are possible here in central Florida, so resting on his Day 1 success was not an option.

The young Yavorsky was relentless again on Saturday, rocketing out of Venetian Gardens at 7 a.m. and making the 30-minute run to Lake Carlton, where he boated his best bass this week. He worked a shellbar there in about 10 feet of water, throwing a Strike King 5XD crankbait over an area that is about 200 to 300 yards long. He said bait color was not important as long as it closely matched the water clarity in Carlton, not to mention the shad that hefty bass were chomping there.

Saturday wasn’t without challenges. The wind, crucial to his earlier bags, was nowhere to be found early on Day 2. Several spectator boats also were near his top spot when he arrived for what he hoped would be the finishing touches on a championship.

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