Junior: Arnold and Clark take title at Lay Lake

SHELBY COUNTY, Ala. — Despite their youth, Ross Clark and Zach Arnold have been around long enough to know that catching three keeper bass in the first 30 minutes of a tournament usually leads to good finishes.

It certainly did Saturday.

Clark and Arnold, a pair of 14-year-old eighth-graders from Cullman, Ala., teamed to catch a five-bass limit of 14 pounds, 3 ounces, which was more than enough to win the Bassmaster Junior Series event at Lay Lake.

They’ll split the $749 given to the first-place team, part of more than a $1,900 total purse awarded to competitors. 

Forty-three junior tandems started with a 6:30 a.m. CT take-off Saturday from Beeswax Creek Park, just south of Birmingham. Anglers ranged from second to eighth graders and each boat had an adult captain aboard.

Clark and Arnold, of the Good Hope Fishing Team, started the day hot, throwing a combination of ChatterBaits (white/chartreuse) and swimbaits (white) to boat their best bass.

The heaviest of the bunch was Clark’s 5-pounder which not only anchored his team’s bag but also earned Big Bass of the Tournament honors.

“I caught two right before that were about 2 or 3 pounds,” Clark said. “When I caught the 5-pounder, it jumped right at the boat. I thought it was going to come off, but Zach was able to net it for me. I’m glad he was there.”

Arnold said he and Clark fished Lay Dam, about a 30-minute run from Beeswax Creek Park. They fished primarily in about 10 feet of water, looking for current and feeding bass.

“It feels great to win,” Arnold said. 

Colton and Cullen Howell of the Mt. Pleasant Junior Bass Team (Tenn.) weighed a 9-10 limit to place second. Parker Bilbrey and Tyler Thompson of Livingston Academy (Tenn.) finished third with a 9-2 limit.

The tournament was hosted by DiscoverShelby.com.