ANDERSON, S.C.– When he was selected as a 2022 Bassmaster All-American, Nathan Reynolds from Backwoods Bassin’ was surprised by the increase in engagement he received from anglers and potential sponsors, particularly on social media.
“I have gotten a lot of attention on social media and I wasn’t really expecting that,” The Tennessee angler said. “I have enjoyed connecting with companies in the industry as well as people I never would have met if I weren’t an All-American.”
Now that he and his partner Luke Malik have earned a spot on Championship Saturday of the Abu Garcia Bassmaster High School Championship at Lake Hartwell presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, he’s likely to receive a lot more.
After landing in 20th on Day 1 of the prestigious event with 12 pounds, 12 ounces, Reynolds and Malik sacked 13-0 to jump into 8th-place with a two-day total of 25-12, securing their spot on the final day.
“I’ve fished four consecutive National Championships and never made the final day,” Reynolds said. “I have been close before back on Kentucky Lake and the goal coming into this week was to make the third day and let the chips fall where they may.”
Eight of the 12 total All-Americans qualified for this event, but Reynolds will ultimately be the highest finisher in this event. Three other All-Americans, Rein Golub (83rd), Hudson Choquette (68th) and Levi Thibodaux (80th), notched Top 100 finishes in the field of over 300 boats.
“That is surprising,” Reynolds said of being the highest finisher. “I’m really proud of the work we have done this week. It means a lot to me to come to a lake I’m not familiar with and be in the Top 10.”
Coming into the event, Reynolds, who graduated in the spring and is committed to the University of North Alabama, said there was a little more pressure for him and Malik to do well.
“All week we had to remind ourselves to stay calm, fish hard,” he said. “It’s not about your name, at the end of the day it is all about what you have in the bag.”
So far, Reynolds and Malik have proved in this championship they can bring competitive bags to the scales. Their whole week has been focused on the main lake areas of Hartwell. Unlike several of the other teams that made the Top 12 who have caught exclusively largemouth, Reynolds said he and Malik have been catching a lot of spotted bass with largemouth mixed in.
“Everyone has talked about the cane piles and topwater fishing around the cane piles, but we didn’t do well the first day of practice doing it,” Reynolds said. “What we adjusted to was, we started fishing around the cane piles. We are chasing wolf packs of spotted bass and largemouth with Garmin LiveScope and they would come up and hit it.”
No matter how this tournament ends, Reynolds is looking forward to starting his college career with North Alabama beginning this fall. Eventually, he would like to make his way to the Bassmaster Open stage with a chance to qualify for the Elite Series.
“Bassmaster allows us to hone in our skills as anglers and develop,” he said. “We’ve been all over the place: we’ve been to Florida, Alabama, we went to Michigan this year, Arkansas and now we are in South Carolina. It has allowed us to develop into well-rounded anglers and prepares you for the next level of fishing competition.”