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Idaho anglers shine at regional competition

| February 15, 2021 1:00 AM

A total of 20 Idaho bass fishermen competed Feb. 3-5 in the BASS Western Regional Qualifier on Lake Havasu in Arizona.

These 20 anglers qualified for the Idaho state team in 2020 on Lake Coeur d’Alene. A total of nine Western States were represented by teams at the event, and Team Idaho placed second among the nine states.

Harrison Bertsch was the top Idaho fisherman, placing 10th overall out of 89 in the Boater category. Dustin Frank took the No. 1 spot for Idaho in the Co-Angler Category, placing fourth among 87 co-anglers. Washington angler Taylor Smith, well known among local bass fishermen, won the overall prize.

Bertsch and Frank move on to the BASS Nation National Championship in November. The event will be at a yet to be determined location in the southern U.S. If successful at nationals they will move on to the Bassmaster Classic in 2022. BASS is a national organization promoting the sport while encouraging conservation and catch and release.

Idaho State Team members for 2021 are Don Dethloff, Mat Cole, Josh Ragan, Tony Mc Calmant, David Bertsch, Justin Soppe, Harrison Bertsch, Cole Schneider, Kenny Carver, Benny Mello, Don Hull, Jess Pottenger, Bob Yelland, Taylor Hulstrom, Luke White, Dustin Frank, Christian Hanson, Jag Griffin, Travis Brewster and Walker McElvany.

All except two on the team are from North Idaho and have deep connections — including Bertsch and Frank, former Lakeland High athletes.

"They all have been competitive athletes, some business people and few young guys are trying to make a living at fishing like Brandon Palaniuk," said David Bertsch, Harrison's father and president of the Idaho Bass Nation. "Then there is me, the oldest I’m just along for the the ride and to watch a great sport. If those people make it to the Bassmasters Classic and do well their life might change."

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Courtesy photo Team Idaho placed second out of nine teams at the BASS Western Regional Qualifier on Feb. 3-5 on Lake Havasu in Arizona. From left are Harrison Bertsch, Cole Schneider, Christian Hanson, Travis Brewster, Mat Cole, Josh Ragan, Justin Soppe, Tony McCalmant, Don Hull, Bob Yelland, David Bertsch, Luke White, Don Dethloff, Dustin Frank, Walker McElvany, Taylor Hulstrom, Kenny Carver, Jess Pottenger, Jag Griffin and Benny Mellow.