Calling all kids for the national Happy Fishin' Contest; entries due Oct. 24

Bass Pro Shops Founder Johhny Morris, left, pauses for a photo with young Florida angler Ke’Mari Cooper, center, and his father, Velt. The young fisherman who starred in a video that went viral in 2019 is the inspiration behind the Happy Fishin' Contest.

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Nothing beats the smile on a kid’s face when they catch a fish.

That’s the inspiration behind the Johnny Morris Happy Fishin’ Contest, where 10 passionate youth ages 17 and younger will win their very own boat and join in the fun at the U.S. Open National Bass Fishing Championships on Table Rock Lake in November.

Noted conservationist and Bass Pro Shops Founder Johnny Morris has spent a lifetime fishing and connecting more kids and families to nature. Now, he wants to celebrate kids who love to fish and attract even more families to put down their digital devices and pick up a fishing pole.

“We’re looking for some of the most passionate and enthusiastic youngsters out there to help inspire others to get out and enjoy the outdoors,” Morris said. “There is no better feeling than seeing the joy and excitement on a young angler’s face when they catch a fish. It’s what sparks a lifelong love of the outdoors. We hope every kid who loves to fish submits a video — let’s create some happy memories!”

Prize package

Ten winners will enjoy the prize package of a lifetime:

• A new Bass Tracker Classic XL boat, motor and trailer

$500 Bass Pro Shops gift card for tackle and more

• U.S. Open jersey and amenity bag with exclusive gear

• Full travel and lodging for the winner and one guardian to Big Cedar Lodge — America’s Premier Wilderness Lodge — on Table Rock Lake in Missouri’s Ozark Mountains

• The chance to compete in a special kids fishing tournament during the US Open National Championships.

How to enter

Create a video of 2 minutes or less that shows a passion for fishing. Grownups can help film, but the kids need to tell their story and why they love to fish. Submit the videos and a completed entry form to by Oct. 24, and a panel of celebrity anglers will review each video and select 10 winners. Winners will be announced on Nov. 2.

Kids, be sure to wear your Bass Pro Shops cap!

Inspiration for the contest

Johnny Morris was inspired to create this contest after getting to know Ke’Mari Cooper, a young fisherman from Florida who starred in a video that went viral in 2019.

Ke’Mari was fishing with his father, Velt, when he reeled in a giant 7.1-pound bass, leading to screams of joy and a celebration dance. Then Ke’Mari took the bass back to the water’s edge and carefully released it back into the water, saying, “I hope you grow even bigger, baby. One day, we’ll meet back again.”

That heartwarming encounter, and Ke’Mari’s commitment to the outdoors and conservation, inspired Johnny to invite all kids who love fishing to help spread the word and get even more families engaged with nature.

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