Soldridge earns Quad-State fishing title
Like most outdoor enthusiasts, James Soldridge III knew how to use a rod and reel by around the same time he could walk. His father had him out at local streams early in his life and young James fell in love with the sport.
But unlike most anglers, he took it to another level. During his freshman year of high school, Soldridge joined the Lehigh Valley Junior Bassmasters and began fishing competitively.
Through that program he competed in many fishing tournaments with success, mostly around eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey. This year he earned his biggest title to date.
As part of a two-man team with his friend Zach Tamandl, Soldridge took first place at the Student Angler Federation’s Quad-State High School Championship recently in Maryland.
“I was confident,” said Soldridge. “We practiced a lot that week. We tried different spots and different baits.”
Along with the two anglers was boat handler Jordan Sypeck, who has been part of three winning teams in recent years.
“He has a lot of experience down there,” said Soldridge.
The contest was a one-day event in which the top five heaviest fish caught by the two anglers would make up their total for the day. They hauled in 17.44 pounds of bass to finish a pound ahead of the next-best team.
While he’s been to some pretty big local tournaments, the trip to Chesapeake was the largest of his career by far.
“It’s huge,” said Soldridge. “There were 47 boats and so many trailers.”
By winning the Quad State Championship the boys are now qualified to fish the World Open in Florence, Alabama next June.
When he’s not fishing competitively, Soldridge, who already has his own bass boat, likes to hit local streams like the Jordan or head to lakes such as Leaser or Beltzville. He said the bass action at Leaser has been plentiful since the lake was drained and refilled recently.
He also enjoys annual salmon fishing in Pulaski, NY.
When fishing season ends Soldridge likes to hunt deer and small game.
He plans to continue to fish competitively and could even seek out a college that offers fishing as an extracurricular activity.