Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Teen anglers set sights on national bass tournament title

By Ed Pierce

Chaz Elston has loved fishing since he was small and now the Windham teenager is hoping his ability to catch fish will result in a national bass fishing tournament title.

Chaz Elston, 17, a senior at
Windham High School, was 
part of a team that won The
Bass Federation Maine High
School Fishing Championship
held at Crescent Lake this
past summer. It qualified him
to compete in the national
high school championship
tournament in Lacrosse, 
Wisconsin next June.
Elston, 17, a senior at Windham High School, teamed up with Zach Morris of Turner, also 17, this past summer to win The Bass Federation Maine High School Championships held at Crescent Lake in Raymond.

The victory qualified Elston and Morris for a berth in The Bass Federation’s national high school championship tournament in Lacrosse, Wisconsin next June and for the BassMasters national championships at a site to be determined next summer.

According to Elston, he loves competing in fishing tournaments and winning.

“The thing I like the most about bass fishing is the competitive nature of the sport where you can wake up friends with someone and compete against them the next day,” Elston said. “You never know what's going to happen and it's almost an addictive feeling.”

He says it takes fortitude and determination to become successful in tournament fishing.

“I think the hardest thing for me to overcome was learning to discipline myself, to do what I must in order to become as successful as I want to be,” he said. “No matter the conditions whether it's windy, cold, you're tired or wet, you have to keep pushing yourself to fish as well as you can and not give up.”

Elston said many people believe having success in tournament fishing is nothing more than fate and that’s wrong.

“The biggest misconception people have about tournament bass fishing is that you luck into fish. Every tournament angler has to put in work to win,” Elston said. “You have to be able to know where the fish go depending on the time of year, the water temperature, where the baitfish go. Even things as small as graphs. I've spent well over 100 hours figuring out the electronics on my boat so come tournament day I know nobody has the jump on me.”

Qualifying for the national tournament is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Elston. The event features 51 boats and 51 teams that will fish for the first two days of the event. On the third and final day, only the top seven teams advance for cash prizes and stipends to offset hotel and boat expenses.

The National champions and overall winners will leave with the coveted TBF National Champion Boater and National Champion Co-angler Titles and an awards package of more than $125,000 in cash and prizes including a brand-new Ranger Z520 boat powered by Mercury 250HP outboard engine, Lowrance Electronics and MinnKota Trolling Motors.

To go to Wisconsin to compete in the TBF national high school championships is estimated to cost around $5,000 for each participant, so Elston and Morris are seeking sponsors. They already have lined up Port Yacht Services and Farmers Insurance as sponsors but will need more and additional private donations to be able to make the trip.

For details about becoming a sponsor for Elston and Morris, call 207-318-8817 or send an email to

Sponsorship space is available for jerseys or on the boat that Elston and Morris will fish from, which will be captained at the nationals by Heath Morris, Zach’s father.

Elston began fishing locally with his father Alex more than a decade ago and has been fishing competitively in tournaments for the past four years.

“The thing that makes me a great tournament angler is my dedication to catching fish,” Elston said. “Being out on the boat catching fish is my life. I've put in so much work to get to the position I'm in now going to nationals to represent Maine. It's a dream come true.” <

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