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Minnesota’s Cambridge-Isanti Blue Jackets Edges Field by Six Ounces to Win 2023 High School Fishing National Championship

LA CROSSE, Wis. – Minnesota’s Cambridge-Isanti Blue Jackets duo of Zachary Piescher of Cambridge, Minnesota, and Cole Semler, of Dalbo, Minnesota, brought a final-day three-bass limit to the scale Friday weighing 10 pounds, 12 ounces to win the 2023 High School Fishing National Championship on the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Link to Photo of 2023 High School Fishing National Champions – Minnesota’s Isanti-Cambridge Blue Jackets
Link to Video of Day 3 Championship Weigh-in from High School Fishing National Championship
Link to On-The-Water Photo Gallery from Day 3

The duo’s three-day total of nine bass weighing 32 pounds, 7 ounces, earned them the victory by a slim 6-ounce margin over the runner-up, Illinois’ Kaneland High School, and earned the Cambridge-Isanti duo two $5,000 scholarships to a college of their choosing.  The duo also now advances to the 2023 MLF Toyota Series Championship, held Nov. 2-4 on Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri, to compete as co-anglers and a shot at the top prize of a new Phoenix 518 Pro boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard.

The team from east-central Minnesota has had a variety of roadblocks in their path to overcome in order to make it to the final day, let alone to be in a position to win. After dropping a solid 9-13 on the scales on Day 1, their Day 2 went less than smooth as a variety of setbacks hindered them throughout the day. Close calls while boating, a broken fuel pump, and managing the lock schedule all made for a turbulent time, but the pair were able to scrounge up 11-14 and put themselves in real contention for the title heading into the final day, just 1-6 back from the leaders from Kaneland High School.

“For the past three days it’s been the most adrenalin I’ve ever had,” Piescher said. “Problems come with the good and the bad. We had a couple close calls out there, and then we win this when we weren’t expecting to get first – maybe second or third or whatever.”

The final day of competition got off to another rough start for Cambridge-Isanti as their fuel pump continued to throw a wrench in their tournament plans. Virtually dead in the water, help came from an unlikely source as camera boat driver Brad Wessling offered his boat so that the team could finish out their improbable Championship run.

“We just had to build and build every day,” Semler said. “(Problems) are just something you have got to overcome. First, we had our close call with another boat, then the motor won’t work well (yesterday). Then today we go to take off and it’s just nothing. Then we get permission to jump in the camera boat and things worked out. So, we are pretty lucky.”

After a quick swap and safety check, the boys and their boat captain Jeremiah Semler tore off to Pool No. 7 to chase their largemouth bite up stream. Upon arrival at their destination in Pool 7, the pair sat down and got to work, posting a limit in the first several minutes of their morning.

“We were expecting to get them, and we could almost call our cast,” Cole Semler said. “This place is something special. But, after the camera crew left especially, we calmed down a lot and were able to cull two times.”

“Brad was a lifesaver today,” Piescher said. “We wouldn’t have gotten even nearly close to top five without him. I don’t think we would have been able to catch the same quality in Pool 8.”

The High School Fishing National Championship featured 248 teams, and the top 10 teams at the 2023 High School Fishing National Championship on the Mississippi River finished:

1st: Cambridge-Isanti High School, Cambridge, Minn. – Zachary Piescher and Cole Semler, nine bass, 32-7
2nd: Kaneland High School, Maple Park, Ill. – J.D. McBroom and Carter Pjesky, nine bass, 32-1
3rd: Haughton Fishing Team, Haughton, La. – Carsen Adcock and Jase White, nine bass, 31-0
4th: Ruston High School, Ruston, La. – Rhett Anderson and Jessie Green, six bass, 28-1
5th: Piedmont Academy, Monticello, Ga. – Jaden Hoffman and Jayden Lintner, nine bass, 27-4
6th: Star City High School Anglers, Wahoo, Neb. – Ryder Kahny and Taylor Wagner, nine bass, 27-3
7th: Jackson Bass Fishing, Jackson, Mich. – Rylan Hamlin and Jack Swihart, nine bass, 26-12
8th: Hewitt-Trussville High School, Trussville, Ala. – Andrew Jones and Carson Underwood, nine bass, 26-10
9th: Saint Xavier High School, Louisville, Ky. – Miles Allen and Ethan Roths, eight bass, 26-7
10th: North Paulding High School Bass Team, Dallas, Ga. – Caleb Edwards and Blake Edwards, nine bass, 25-14

Complete results for the entire field can be found at

The 2023 High School Fishing National Championship on the Mississippi River was hosted by Explore La Crosse. MLF High School Fishing tournaments are free, two-person (team) events for students in grades 7-12 and are open to any MLF and TBF Student Angler Federation-affiliated high school club. The top 10 percent of teams at each Open event, along with the TBF High School Fishing state championships, advanced to the 2023 High School Fishing National Championship.

Proud sponsors of the 2023 MLF High School Fishing Presented by Favorite Fishing include: 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, B&W Trailer Hitches, Black Rifle Coffee Company, E3, Favorite Fishing, Fox Rent a Car, General Tire, Grundens, Lawless Lures, Lew’s, Lowrance, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Onyx, Phoenix, Polaris, Power-Pole, Strike King, Tackle Warehouse, T-H Marine, Wiley X and YETI.

For complete details and updated tournament information, visit

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