DANDRIDGE, Tenn. — You don’t always get to play to your angling strength when going for the win in a bass tournament. Sometimes it takes digging deep into the bottom of the tacklebox for a lure that only gets used when absolutely necessary.
A jigging spoon was the lure that Jake Lee and Jacob Mashburn used. Both anglers favor fishing for bass in shallow water. Going offshore and jerking a piece of flattened lead over deep-water structure is far from their favored choice of techniques.
“We knew to win this we’d have to go deep,” Mashburn said. “We knew it would take leaving behind our mindsets about shallow water.”
Doing so paid off with the first place trophy at the Bassmaster High School Open presented by Carhartt. Lee and Mashburn caught 30 pounds, 11 ounces to win the two-day competition on Douglas Lake.
The winners are no strangers to deep water. They are from nearby Clinton, Tenn., and used to doing what it takes to fill the livewell. Even going deep.
The payoff bait was a gold 3/4-ounce War Eagle Jigging Spoon. Not surprisingly, they chose the lure that imitates a dying shad for a reason.
“There were a lot of baitfish nearby and that seemed to make a difference,” Mashburn said.
The spoon and presence of bait lined up perfectly with their chosen fishing area. They found a replenishing supply of largemouth holding on the bottom of a vertical wall, ranging in depth from 28 to 38 feet.
When in the feeding mode the fish held tightly to the bottom. It’s also where the spoon landed. A quick snapping motion of the rod triggered the strikes.
Kyle Ingleburger and Kyle Palmer came in second place with a total of 26-5. The anglers representing Grundy County High School in east Tennessee fished offshore to catch their fish.
Day 1 leaders Noah Pescitelli and Westin Sachs dropped to third place after leading on Friday. The anglers from Mill Creek High School in Buford, Ga., finished the tournament with 25-12.
A hallmark of this tournament was the generous awards and scholarships made available to the anglers and their respective high schools.
Craig Wilson claimed a $1,250 scholarship by winning the Carhartt Big Bass Award. The student from Campbell County High School won the prize for catching a largemouth weighing 6-2 on Day 1.
Two anglers earned the Berkley Sportsmanship Award worth $1000 apiece. The recipients were the runner-up team of Ingleburger and Palmer.
The Grundy County team came to the aid of Cameron Brooks and Chase Geary after it was discovered the team from Muhlenberg County High School in Kentucky had encountered boat mechanical problems.
Ingleburger and Palmer returned to the launch site to borrow a fizz kit needed by both of the teams. After fizzing their fish Grundy County shared the kit with the competing team. Brooks and Geary rode back to the weigh-in with the award recipients.
Scholarships were also awarded to the team catching the heaviest overall weight of the tournament. The team from Corbin High School earned the scholarships after Matt Brown and Christian Warren caught a combined weight of 18-10 on Day 2. Doing so rewarded the anglers from Corbin, Ky., with the Mud Hole Custom Tackle Heavyweight Award. Each angler earned $500 for the accomplishment. The anglers and their coach also received a custom rod building kit.
Mashburn, of the winning team, and Brooks of Muhlenberg County High School received scholarships from a partnership between B.A.S.S. and Campbellsville University. Each angler was awarded renewable $2,500 annual scholarships (up to four years) to Campbellsville University.
In all, up to $27,000 in scholarships was awarded from B.A.S.S., the tournament sponsors and Campbellsville University.
The Bassmaster High School Open presented by Carhartt qualified nine high school teams to compete in the 2015 Bassmaster High School Classic, which will be held in conjunction with the 2015 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Hartwell in Greenville, S.C., Feb. 20-22.
In addition to Carhartt, Mud Hole Custom Tackle and Yamaha are also sponsors of the Bassmastter High School Open.