LUCAS, Ky. -- Juniors Lance Freeman and Alan Shelton made the second time better than the first as they won their age group titles and became the first youngsters to qualify for the Junior World Championship later this year.
On a day shortened by stormy weather at Barren River Lake, Kentucky's Freeman won the 15-18 bracket with three bass that weighed 8-5, while Tennessee's Shelton took the 11-14 with four that weighed 7-13.
Theirs was a one-day competition against anglers from six other states and South Africa, with their weights also added to team totals at the B.A.S.S. Federation National Southern Divisional presented by Yamaha and Skeeter.
Last year, Freeman and Shelton competed in the Southern Divisional at West Point Lake in Georgia. Each managed just one keeper then, and they quickly agreed that this time around was more fun.
"Last year was fun too," Shelton said. "But I didn't win. This feels great."
Both anglers flipped, as did most of those fishing the three-day event. But Freeman also used a spinnerbait to take one of his keepers.
And both lamented that fishing was much better before flooding rains sent the bass scattering on the first day of the tournament.
"It was lights out before the water rose," Freeman said. "Flipping bushes, you could catch 16 or 17 pounds."
Shelton added, "Bites were few and far between today, maybe a bite an hour."
North Carolina's Chris Carnes couldn't manage a keeper, but boated 15 to 20 short fish, he estimated. "I caught 4- and 5-pound fish all week before the tournament started," he said.
South Carolina's Michael Morris used a chatterbait to catch three bass that weighed 5-14. "They were in buttonbushes," he said.
Representing South Africa, Nico Retief caught just one bass, weighing 2-5. But his disappointment was lessened a bit by the fact that he already has qualified to return for the 2012 Southern Divisional.
Georgia's Jake Mims, meanwhile, didn't bring a keeper to the weigh-in stand. But unlike many who strike out, he didn't mind talking about his day.
"There were 3-foot waves," he said. "And I was trying to drop shot, but you had to have a 50-ounce weight to get it to the bottom. It was pretty tough out there."