DANDRIDGE, Tenn. — For Noah Pecitelli and Westin Sachs, the game plan is all about applying local knowledge on a strange lake.
Doing so paid off Thursday for the two anglers from Mill Creek High School located in Buford, Ga. The team’s 5-bass limit weighing 17 pounds, 5 ounces, has them in the lead at the Bassmaster High School Open presented by Carhartt.
The local knowledge comes from Lake Sidney Lanier. The strange water is Douglas Lake. During summer you’ll find the bass in both impoundments inhabiting deep, current-rich water offshore.
“I guess you can say we did bring some of our knowledge up here,” said Sachs. “We are used to fishing for spots (spotted bass) out in deep water.”
The species of the bass are different but the habitat and techniques used to catch them, again, are the same.
“We didn’t find them in practice,” added Pecitelli. “Everything came together today.”
What everything is remains a mystery for obvious reasons. The team wants to win.
“The best part is they capitalized on every opportunity,” added team coach Steve Pecitelli, also the father of Noah.
Moving slightly deeper, an ever so subtle adjustment put a limit in the boat by 9 a.m.
Look at their blog posts elsewhere on Bassmaster.com and you’ll see proof of the culling. Sachs and Pecitelli did it four times over the course of the day. And as their blog photos attest, the culled bass are indeed quality fish. They lost a fish weighing an estimated 8 pounds at boat side.
“We’re locked in on the pattern for sure,” added Sachs. “We don’t see any need to make any further adjustments.”
That could be good. Or it could be bad.
The reason why is the team holds a very slim 4-ounce lead over Hunter Silverstrim and Elmer Smith of Montgomery County High School in Clarksville, Tenn.
The Queen City Bassmasters anglers also had a banner day. The team caught their limit by 9:20 a.m. They also culled. Five times.
And here’s a striking similarity to the mystery strategy of the leaders.
“We moved deeper and started catching fish,” said Smith.
Another similarity is the team moved from 22 to 30 feet. Again, making an ever so subtle adjustment made all the difference, just like the leaders.
Thursday's Carhartt Big Bass leader is Craig Wilson of Campbell County High School in Jacksboro, Tenn. His largemouth weighing 6-2 may have earned the angler a $1,250 scholarship, if it remains the largest bass weighed in after Saturday's weigh-in.
A hallmark of this tournament is the generous awards and scholarships available to the teams and their respective high schools.
The angler weighing the biggest bass of the tournament earns a $1,250 scholarship with the Carhartt Big Bass award. Two $1,000 scholarships will be awarded from the Berkley Sportsmanship Award. Mud Hole Custom Tackle will provide another pair of $500 scholarships to the anglers on the team catching the heaviest overall weight. The company is also giving away a custom rod building kit to the anglers and their coach.
In all, up to $27,000 in scholarships will be awarded from B.A.S.S., the tournament sponsors and Campbellsville University.
The tournament concludes Saturday with the final weigh-in at The Point Resort in Dandridge, Tenn. The weigh-in gets underway at 2:30 p.m. EDT.
Keep up with all the coverage on Bassmaster.com. You’ll find features, photo galleries and a live blog with posts by the anglers and coaches. There’s a Facebook page too, where you can make posts and find other news and information about B.A.S.S.