GREENVILLE, S.C. — Parker Stalvey and Jacob Deel of Clay High School in Florida capitalized on an early discovery to sack up a five-bass limit of 16 pounds, 4 ounces and win the Abu Garcia Bassmaster High School Classic presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors on Lake Keowee.
As Deel explained, the deep reservoir presented a stark contrast to the shallow stained water he and Stalvey are used to fishing.
“It’s a lot different here — it’s clear water,” he said. “We were going down the river and found schooling fish so we stopped in 100 feet of water. We picked up an Alabama rig and it was almost every other cast. We had a lot of fun.”
Deel said the average depth where they caught bass was about 52 feet. Their Alabama rigs carried 3/16-ounce swimbait heads on the rig’s perimeter and a 1/4-ounce head in the center “target” position. All of the heads held white 3.3 Keitech Swing Impact Fat swimbaits.
“We kind of figured out from the get-go that if we just burned the rig nothing happened,” Deel said. “So, we said, ‘Alright, let’s do the complete opposite. We reeled it as slow as day and started getting more bites on it.
“Sometimes we would kind of rip it off the bottom. We’d reel it up to a certain point in the water column and just kept it there. You had to find that point in the water column every few casts. Once we found where the fish were suspended, we’d get to catching them.”
Stalvey said the Alabama rig contributed four of the winning bass. The fifth bit a topwater bait.
“Our first fish ate a big chrome-colored Heddon Zara Spook — the biggest one they make,” Stalvey said. “As soon as we shut down this morning, they started schooling. I grabbed the Spook and, literally, my first cast was the biggest fish we had — it was a spot about 3 to 3 1/2 pounds.”
The winning anglers ended up catching all of their fish out of schooling activity. They boated a quick limit in the first hour and hopped around to various spots where they had seen schoolers in practice.
Noting that he and Deel completed their winning weight by about 1:30 p.m., Stalvey said a stealthy approach seemed to keep the fish in a more cooperative mood.
“When we shut down the back graphs, we started getting a lot more bites,” he said. “I guess they can pick up the frequency on that graph.
“Also, making long casts helped — as long as you could throw. They wanted a very active retrieve.”