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student Katy Carey sits on a bench with her fishing pole in hand

Lander native and Central Wyoming College nursing student, Katy Carey was named state champion at the 2021 Big Bass Zone Junior Championship (BBZ JC) after catching the biggest five bass limit at the state level. 

Carey went up against other teen anglers across the country to catch her fish. Her five bass limit entries were largemouth bass and weighed more than 14 pounds in total which qualified her to compete in the prestigious BBZ JC World Finals in Branson, Missouri on Oct. 30. 

This is the third year of the BBZ tournament and Carey’s second time competing at a national level. The event itself was created by Fishing Hall of Fame angler Bill Siemantel who hoped to broaden access to competitive fishing for teens.

“The tournament is designed to allow anyone with 25 dollars to compete on a national level,” Carey said. 

The entry period runs for seven months, as opposed to the single-day format of traditional angling competitions. Competitors are permitted to fish from the bank or boat and enter their five biggest catches in hopes of being named the winner of their state.

Carey was the Wyoming state champion of the 2019 BBZ JC which was in Idaho and her history with the sport extends back even further.

I've been fishing ever since I was big enough to hold a fishing pole. I like bass fishing specifically because at times the fish are very aggressive and put up a good fight. ”

Carey has a lot of work to do to get ready for this opportunity.

“I am preparing for interviews and looking for sponsors to help with travel expenses to get to Branson, Missouri for the national championship,” she said. “I am preparing equipment and practicing on local waters with techniques that I will need to use in the Missouri waters for bass.”

Carey is also balancing the demands of the competition with her responsibilities as a student.

“As a first-year nursing student I am very busy,” she said. 

Carey’s draw to the CWC nursing program parallels the fighting spirit and lifelong dedication she puts into fishing.

“For almost as long as I can remember I have wanted to be a nurse,” she said. “I chose CWC because their nursing program is top-rated, competitive, and has state-of-the-art facilities.”

Carey also said she is looking forward to serving her community as a nurse after she completes her degree.

When she competes in Missouri, Carey has shot at more than $300,000 worth of prizes that include a Bass Cat boat, scholarships and a fishing trip to Mexico. However, the competition is about more than prizes for Carey.

“This competition gives a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fish in a national high profile tournament,” she said.