CLENDENIN, W.Va. -- Alex Goff took the short road to becoming a world champion.
Just five years from when he started fishing in bass tournaments, Goff became the first West Virginian to win a B.A.S.S. Federation Nation world youth title. Battling high winds and low temperatures on Alabama's Wilson Lake, the Clendenin youngster took top honors in the Bassmaster Junior World Championship's 11-14 age bracket.
"This is definitely the biggest tournament I've ever won," said the Herbert Hoover High School sophomore.
During his brief career as a tournament angler, Goff has won local, state and regional tournaments.
"I started fishing in tournaments with my dad when I was 6 or 7 years old," he said. "I've been fishing by myself in tournaments since I was 10, and I've managed to win a few."
Goff won the West Virginia FLW championship in 2010, which qualified him to compete for the 11-14 title at the FLW Junior World Championships on Georgia's Lake Lanier. "I didn't do very well at the worlds," he recalled.
He did considerably better this year. Fishing in the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation organization, which operates under different rules than FLW, Goff had to post two wins to make it into the world competition.
"I won the 2012 Federation Nation state youth tournament, and that qualified me to advance to the Mid-Atlantic Junior Championships," he said. "I won the Mid-Atlantic tournament, and that allowed me to advance to the worlds."
When Goff arrived in Alabama to practice for the Oct. 27 event, the weather was warm and the winds were calm.
"I thought I had the lake all figured out," he said. "Then, on the day of the tournament, the weather changed. The temperature dropped 40 degrees and the wind kicked up to 25 miles an hour."
All of Goff's meticulous practice went out the window.
"The fish I'd been catching in practice disappeared," he said. "I started looking for places that were more sheltered from the wind. I finally found one, a cove with docks and weeds, and I started catching fish."