Goff boated one bass on a Rat-L-Trap crankbait and two larger fish on spinnerbaits. The biggest fish would later tip the scales at 3 pounds, 7 ounces.
Waiting to learn whether he had won turned out to be more nerve-wracking than the pressure-packed day of fishing had been. The youth-division weigh-in followed the same format as all Bassmaster weigh-ins: The angler with the heaviest bag of fish must sit in front of the crowd on a "hot seat" as subsequent anglers' catches are weighed.
"Alex's turn came in the middle of the weigh-in," said his father, Mike Goff. "We could see that he had a good bag of fish, and it put him into the lead. He had to sit on the hot seat while all the rest of the competitors weighed in. It was pretty intense."
The final angler had also caught three bass, but when he lifted them from the bag it became apparent they wouldn't be large enough to eclipse the West Virginian's 8-pound total. The win belonged to Goff.
His victory drew praise from West Virginia's Federation Nation angling community.
"We're tickled pink," said Ken Hackworth, the organization's youth director. "This is the first time a West Virginia kid has ever done it. We're very proud of him."
The victory earned Goff a boatload of awards, one that even included the boat.
In addition to a $5,000 college scholarship, $800 in Cabela's gift certificates and a honking big trophy, Goff brought home a 16-foot Triton aluminum bass boat rigged with a Mercury outboard, a Motor Guide trolling motor and Lowrance fish-finding electronics.
Goff, who turned 15 between the West Virginia tournament and the Mid-Atlantic event, is now aiming to compete in higher youth age brackets, in adult tournaments and even in tournaments where he wears his school's colors.
"I'm going to start fishing the Buddy Tournament Trail this coming year, probably with another kid or maybe some with my dad," he said. "And I'd definitely like to fish on a college team."
Reach John McCoy at johnmc...@wvgazette.com or call 304-348-1231.