DAYTON, Tenn. — A beautiful spring day on famed Chickamauga Lake became even better for the Florida team of Carson Falk and Trey Blackmon III of Capital City Bass Hunters. In front of a large crowd, the dynamic duo was able weigh a five-bass limit of 25 pounds, 3 ounces to best a huge field of talented high school anglers at the 2023 Strike King Bassmaster High School Series at Chickamauga Lake presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors.
Although it was an eight-hour drive from the Tallahassee, Fla., area, the pair was able to find water that looked and fished similarly to Lake Seminole, their home lake.
“We started off on a bed fish this morning that we figured was around 4 1/2 pounds but we eventually had to leave it,” said 15-year-old Falk. “We stayed in the lower portion of the lake all day because it just set up perfectly for what we’re best at. It had clear water, stumps and grass which is a perfect combination.”
During practice, Falk and Blackmon used large swimbaits like the Megabass Magdraft and Bass Mafia Daingerous. The big bass would follow the swimbaits out of the grass and as soon as the bass showed themselves, the anglers would quickly get the swimbaits back into the boat and mark a GPS waypoint in order to return on tournament day.
“They were eating big crappie while also spawning on those grass flats,” Falk said. “We used your typical grass baits such as bladed jigs to catch the fish that previously followed our big baits. The conditions lined up perfectly and we were able to fish with our favorite baits and had a blast.”
In second place, 17-year-old anglers Logan Withrow and Braden Crumley of Chilhowee Bassmasters in Charleston, Tenn., had a five-bass limit weighing 18-2. They credited a mid-morning move for their impressive finish.
“Initially, we ran all the way below Watts Bar Dam and fished for three hours without a bite,” Withrow said. “We decided to head back down the lake toward Harrison Bay and that was the move that made the difference. We stopped on a bluff and caught two 5-pounders on a custom-made bluegill-colored jig and the rest of our keepers came on a drop shot and wacky rig.”
Living just 20 miles from Chickamauga, the team has plenty of experience on their local waters.
“We’re familiar with this lake, but it’s still important to make adjustments every day,” Withrow said. “To be able to come out and fish our home waters and have such a great tournament is an awesome feeling. This is the highest finish of our high school career and we are thrilled.”
Rounding out the Top 5 teams were, third, Brody Kellum and Carson Thompson of Georgia’s Franklin County High School with 16-9; fourth, Brady Vest and Brody Hopper of Cullman (Ala.) High School with 16-8; and fifth, former Bassmaster Junior Series champions Lainie Holbert and Sarah Swindle of Riverside High School in Tenn., with 16-5.
The Big Bass of the Tournament — a 9-3 largemouth — was caught by Jonathan Fann and Gunter Pitts of Tennessee’s Cannon County High School.