High school anglers ready for National Championship

PARIS, Tenn. — The high school anglers hit the waters of Kentucky Lake and Carroll County Reservoir this week in hopes of bringing home the Bassmaster High School Championship.

The field is made up of 58 teams from 33 states. Not only are they competing for the championship trophy, but also $66,250 in scholarship money. Along with scholarships from B.A.S.S. and supporting sponsors,  Bethel University will also be providing scholarships to the highest finishing junior or senior team. Bethel has made a name for itself by paving the way for scholarships in college fishing, growing the sport and garnering more attention for the collegiate level.

Many of these high school anglers have never wet a line in Kentucky Lake, so Monday and Tuesday’s practices will be crucial to success.

Jake Lee and Jacob Mashburn of Clinton County High School may have recently won the High School Open on Douglas Lake on June 20-21, but these Tennessee anglers are just as foreign to Kentucky Lake as the rest of the field.

One technique that has received national attention lately has been throwing an oversized jigging spoon. The Ben Parker Signature Series Magnum Spoon showed what it could do during summer tournaments on ledge lakes. The FLW tour pumped out numerous bags over 20 pounds with at least half of the Top 10 using it. That same weekend the College B.A.S.S. series competed in its Wildcard event on Pickwick Lake, where Dalton Wilson and Randall Morris from Bethel University beat the field by over five pounds, also using the Magnum Spoon.

Lee and Mashburn are not opposed to fishing deep—they won on Douglas Lake by using a 3/4 ounce War Eagle Spoon—but they weren’t able to get their hands on the already-famous Ben Parker’s edition.

“I had some ordered, but they didn’t get to my house in time,” said Lee.

Even with recent success fishing offshore, these anglers call themselves shallow water fishermen at heart and expect to do the same this week.

“That’s always in the back of our head,” said Lee. “That’s what we love to do and there will definitely be some shallow water fishing done in our boat.”

The High School B.A.S.S. Nation program has given these teams the opportunity to compete against other anglers with similar skill sets while also working toward scholarships.

“It's awesome that we can go to school for college fishing,” said Lee. “There is nothing else that we would rather do than go to college and fish. We are pretty fired up about it.”

Competition begins Wednesday, July 16 at 5:30 a.m. on Kentucky Lake. The field will be cut in half after Day 2, with 29 teams fishing Carroll County Reservoir on Friday. Saturday, the top 10 teams will compete and a National Championship team will be crowned at the weigh-in on Bethel University’s campus.