This time last year, fishing partners Ivan Koretic and Logan Kuhrmann, both of Essex, were preparing for The Bass Federation and Fishing League Worldwide Quad State High School Fishing Championship.
This year's version will be significantly different. After being the only team from Maryland last year, Koretic and Kuhrmann, both 16, will be joined by a handful of Maryland teams Saturday in the second annual championship on the Chesapeake Bay.
"It's great that there are some more Maryland teams ... this year," Koretic said. "I think a few teams are coming from Sparrows Point High School, and about five from Maryland in total. My favorite part about these events is competition, and that's what they're really about."
The tournament will take place next to Elk Neck State Park in North East and is open to high school fishing teams from Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The top 10 percent of each state's teams move on to the Conference Championships, followed by the National Championship.
Last year, Koretic and Kuhrmann needed to catch just one fish to qualify for the Conference Championships. They expect Saturday's tournament to be more challenging.
The duo came in 10th place last year with a net total of 7.14 pounds from four fish (five is the maximum number of fish that can be scored).
Having fished pretty much their entire lives, Koretic and Kuhrmann dream that one day they'll do so professionally.
"I just really love the simple aspects of fishing. The feeling of getting one on the hook, the wind cracking on your back, there's nothing really like it," Kuhrmann said. "Pretty much all our friends are into fishing, which is awesome since we always have people to go out with."
For the upcoming tournament, the two Kenwood juniors feel prepared and said the tides and knowing the good spots to look for fish will help.
"I'm confident about this competition. As long as we read the tides and hug along the shelters to find the fish, we'll catch some," Koretic says. "Our only problem last year was that we only caught one of our fish in the morning, which was tough because we were rushing to catch some just a few minutes before weigh-in."
The boats take off from the docks at 6 a.m. and return to the docks at 2 p.m. to weigh in. Prizes include rods for the top overall team and lures for the state winners.
While those are nice secondary prizes, the two friends and teammates really only care about moving on to the next round.
"It's really important, because we got third at last year's Conference Finals, and we want to go farther," Koretic says. "No one really heard about this tournament last year, so having more teams this year will definitely make it a better experience."