If ever there was a perfect name for a budding fishing star, Mississippi's 2016 High School Bass champion has it.
Lake Norsworthy, 14, an eighth grader at Brandon High School, won both the first and second rounds of the state tournament held this spring on Barnett Reservoir near Jackson. He also had lunker both days (March 19 and May 7).
In three other high school tournaments during the past school year, the young Norsworthy has a fifth place at Columbus Lake in November, a 12th place at Gulfport Lake in February and a second and lunker at Barnett in April.
Lake came by his talents naturally, learning from his father Mike Norsworthy, a successful local tournament fisherman with many wins to his credit on Barnett Reservoir.
“Every so often someone comes along who excels at certain sports and activities; the rest of us put in the same amount of effort but we just don’t have that natural ability,” said Mike Norsworthy. “Lake is one of those few that just naturally have it.
“He has been obsessed with fishing since he was in diapers and was throwing a bait casting reel at age 3. He would stay in the yard casting and flipping into a bucket for hours until we made him come inside.”
Dad was so impressed by his fast-learning son, that he insisted the two join forces in local team tournaments two years ago.
“We began fishing tournaments together with Team Trails Youth (now known as CGM Youth Trail when he was 5,” Dad said. “He would get so excited and nervous that he would throw up for an hour before blast off. He was always successful in the youth tournaments, winning several angler of the year titles through about five or six years of competing on the youth trail.
“Last year at the age of 13, he and I became partners in all team tournaments, and we actually won the first adult team tournament we fished together last March (2015) on Ross Barnett. He caught the lunker in that one. Since he and I started fishing as a team we have consistently been in the check line and won our share along the way.”
The Norsworthys won a Feb. 20 Media Bass Tournament on Barnett against 89 teams, placed third in a Media event April 23 against 74 teams and currently rank third in the Media yearly standings.
“Even at the age of 14 and in the eighth grade he has become a name around the reservoir and you can bet when he or we show up at the weigh-in, everybody is going to ask him if he’s got ’em,” Mike Norsworthy said. “And, his answer is usually yes.
“I have fished with a lot of adults as well as children and I will put Lake against any of them mechanically and mentally. If you fish with him for any species, he will beat you.”
Lake is quick to give his father credit.
“I have learned everything about fishing from my dad,” he said. “The most important thing he taught me is having a positive attitude at all times while I am fishing. He taught me that even when you start to fish sloppy and start losing fish to keep a positive attitude because that is the only thing that can make it better. While we are fishing in a tournament, and the fishing gets tough, Dad always tells me to never give up because if I do it will only get worse.”
What excites the youngster is the anticipation of a big bite.
“Getting that big bite early is what fires me up,” he said. “I like it when I can catch that big fish early so I can calm down and fish better. When I don’t get a big one early, I start to speed up and get in a hurry and that makes me fish sloppy.
“I even get fired up just being out there on the lake fishing with Dad.”
He has a future plan.
“I’d love to get a scholarship to a good college for fishing, and after that I would like to travel around the country and fish against the pros I see on TV,” Lake Norsworthy said. “My biggest dream is to fish against the pros one day, but I know I have to keep a positive attitude and fish my best to get that chance.”
Mike Norsworthy believes it could happen.
“The most important thing I have tried to teach him is to work hard at it and fish until the last minute,” he said. “I have to say I am impressed with his ability to stay focused at such a young age.”