PARIS, Tenn. — With nothing to lose at the halfway point of Day 1, Dailus Richardson and Trevor McKinney changed up their game plan and altered their strategy. Not only did it pay off, but it also vaulted them into the lead with 20 pounds and 14 ounces.
“We started fishing shallow in the morning,” said Richardson. “During our halftime break we discussed what we needed to do because we only had one keeper so we went and hit our secondary spot and found some fish.”
Even though the Benton High School team lives in Illinois and doesn’t have access to ledge lakes like Kentucky Lake, it didn’t stop them from making the drive south to put in some hard work on this body of water.
“We knew a little bit about the lake and we knew we would have an advantage over some of the teams that are thousands of miles away,” said McKinney.
Timing is crucial on Tennessee River lakes, and that was no different for the leaders as the pieces fell into place. They made moves and changed throughout the day. But duplicating success from one day to another goes hand in hand with timing your spots correctly.
“Within the first 10 minutes on our secondary spot we caught a 5-pounder,” said McKinney. “Then the next 10 minutes we caught a 6-pounder. It just really worked out.”
Kentucky Lake in July has been tough thus far, and adapting to conditions is one aspect these anglers are already taking into account.
“We won’t run as far as we did,” said Richardson. “We will probably stay closer and find some more fish close.”
Front Range Bass Club anglers Ryan Wood and Adam Deakin came to a foreign body of water, one completely different from any in their home state of Colorado, and still found success—to the tune of 20 pounds, 8 ounces.
“We have never fished ledges before, but we came here before the cutoff and learned some new techniques and gained experience,” said Wood.
Even with trolling motor problems the night before the tournament, these anglers stayed focused, grinding out a tough Day 1 and putting themselves in a great position to make the cut and fish on the Carroll County Reservoir. Their boat captain found a replacement trolling motor to borrow for the tournament, the only problem was that it was two hours away. So he made the trip, arriving at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday night and installing the replacement trolling motor. He returned to Paris, Tenn. around 1:30 a.m., eventually waking his team anglers up at 3:30 to head to takeoff.
With their lucky trolling motor, these anglers fished all day to get the weight they brought to the scales.
“We had two fish at our halfway break, with one being a 6-pounder,” said Wood.
This team worked for every fish they caught, culling only twice with bites that came periodically throughout the day.
Tennessee anglers Jake Lee and Jacob Mashburn from Clinton High School showed they are a team to be reckoned with in the high school ranks, bringing in 18 pounds, 11 ounces to the scales, right in the hunt at the top of the leaderboard.
These anglers are not new to big days and quality finishes; they won the High School Classic on Lay Lake in Alabama back in February. They also took the title at the Douglas Open just one month ago.
Lee and Mashburn moved away from their shallow ways Day 1, boating a third place weight.
“Our key was just finding the fish and knowing where they were at,” said Mashburn. “Most of our fish catches came here and there, but typically when we would catch one, we could catch another right after.”
With no experience on this particular body of water, Lee and Mashburn made the most of their two practice days, finding the necessary schools of fish. They planned on running their best spot, but stopped at a secondary spot to put some quick fish in the boat. They never made it to their best area, as the secondary spot did enough to help them stay in contention.
Jack Garner of the Douglas Indians caught the Day 1 Big Bass, which weighed in at 7 pounds and 5 ounces.
After Thursday's cut, the field will be split in half. The Top 30 teams will head to Carroll County Reservoir, with their weights zeroed, to compete in the final two days of the tournament.
Along with the championship trophy, these anglers are also vying for scholarship money. Following the Day 2 weigh-in, tournament director Hank Weldon will award one of five finalists with the Costa Sunglasses Bright Future award, a $5,000 scholarship. Factors in the decision making for the scholarship include school GPA, extracurricular activities and a written essay.