Top young anglers will visit Chickamauga Lake for High School and Junior Championships

DAYTON, Tenn. — The eyes of the fishing world are on young anglers after 19-year-old Trey McKinney made history last week, becoming the youngest pro to win a Bassmaster Elite Series event. And this summer, hundreds of the top young anglers from across the country will descend on eastern Tennessee, with the next big star quite possibly among them.

B.A.S.S. officials announced today that the Bassmaster Junior National Championship will be held July 26-27 on Chickamauga Lake, followed by the Strike King Bassmaster High School National Championship on Aug. 1-3. The City of Dayton will host both events, with daily takeoffs and weigh-ins held at Dayton Boat Dock.

The Junior Series event will feature anglers from grades second through eighth, while the High School Series event will have a field comprised of eighth- to 12th-graders. With the High School and Junior Series kicking off this past February, young anglers are busy qualifying now through regular-season events at both levels.

“If people weren’t paying attention to youth anglers before, they certainly are now,” said Glenn Cale, B.A.S.S. Nation tournament manager for the College, High School and Junior Series. “Not only are these guys fiercely competitive amongst themselves, but some of them will likely be making waves on the top-level circuits very soon.

“An incredible fishery like Chickamauga, which is known for giant largemouth, will be the perfect setting for these youngsters to show just what they can do.”

Chickamauga has been the backdrop for many major B.A.S.S. events, including one of the wildest Bassmaster Elite Series tournaments in recent memory in 2022. Oklahoma pro Jason Christie won that event with a four-day total of 73 pounds, 7 ounces despite weather that ranged from 70 degrees with bright sunshine to high 30s with snow flurries.

The young anglers should arrive for the two summertime championships to find warmer temperatures and a fabulous offshore bite. That is often when Chickamauga shines brightest.

“The City of Dayton is thrilled to welcome Bassmaster to our city,” said Dayton Mayor Hurley Marsh. “We are excited to continue partnering with Bassmaster and our community to bring the anglers, families and fans to beautiful Chickamauga Lake for tournament fishing. We hope they all enjoy our city’s hospitality.”

The Bassmaster High School and Junior Series last visited Chickamauga in 2023, when the Florida team of Carson Falk and Trey Blackmon III won with a one-day, five-bass limit of 25-3. That event was held in mid-April, and Landon Moore and Trig McHone of Meigs Middle School in Tennessee won the Junior portion with 16-5.

Cale said he anticipates big weights at the top of the leaderboard again.

“Anytime you turn a group of fantastic anglers loose on a fishery like Chickamauga, you expect great things,” Cale said. “With championship trophies on the line, it’ll be especially competitive. There’s no telling what they’ll bring back to the scales.”

The Bassmaster High School and Junior Series trails are comprised of four regular-season events. The top teams from the regular-season events will earn berths into their respective championships.