PARIS, Tenn. — After dominating the last two Bassmaster High School National Championships, Briarwood Christian’s Tucker Smith is in position to claim his third straight title.
Smith and his partner Hayden Marbut brought 22 pounds, 2 ounces to the stage to take the Day 1 lead at the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School National Championship at Kentucky Lake presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors.
While Smith and Marbut’s bag included four quality smallmouth bass, their kicker was a 7-5 largemouth that currently holds the lead for big bass of the tournament.
“Practice was pretty tough. We weren’t getting that many bites a day,” Marbut said. “The bites we were getting were pretty decent fish, though, and it showed today.
“We really didn’t think we had that much. We didn’t really look at them, we just threw them in the box and kept fishing.”
While he has become familiar with the lake during his last two championships, Smith said he and Marbut are fishing completely differently during this National Championship than he and his former partner Grayson Morris did during the two previous events.
“The last two years it has been in August,” Smith said. “So, to catch them in October, it would be cool to see us do well. We are doing stuff totally different.”
Smith and Marbut took advantage of their early flight on Day 1 and caught every fish they weighed in by 8:30 a.m.
“We ran around some spots we found in practice and it was really slow,” Smith said. “We had one that was about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds that we were trying to cull all day. We caught a few more keepers, but those were the ones we caught in the morning.
Despite a later boat draw tomorrow, Smith said as long as he and Marbut reach their first spot around 8 a.m., they should be able to have the same success.
Flint Davis and James Henemyre from Lee County High School trail the Briarwood Christian duo by a little less than 5 pounds after catching 17-3. The Georgia anglers made a 30-mile run from Paris Landing and said they had to work hard for their five bites.
“Overall it was really tough,” Davis said. “It’s just one of those lakes you gotta keep your head in it all day and grind to find five bites, and that’s what we did. This lake is inconsistent, so consistency is what is going to win.”
After catching two keepers all of practice, Davis and Henemyre caught two quick keepers on their first stop of the day but did not find a limit until 30 minutes before weigh-in, when they landed a 4 1/2-pounder.
The Lawrence County duo of Hunter Brewer and Kade Suratt are in third place after Day 1 with 16-5. While Suratt said they had a terrible practice overall, Brewer caught one 9-pound fish during warm-ups that changed their outlook on the tournament.
“We didn’t catch a single bass the first day of practice, and we tried something a little different (the next day) and caught that 9-pounder and another 3 1/2-pounder,” Brewer said. “We completely ditched what we did the day before and tried something we do all the time where I’m from.”
Suratt said they spent most of the day throwing jigs into the current.
“This morning we made a long run, and when we got up there it didn’t take long to get the bites we had,” Brewer added. “We got our five bites and just let off and tried some other stuff and eased our way back.”
The full field will take off from Paris Landing again Friday at 7 a.m. CT. Weigh-in will begin at 3 p.m. The Top 12 teams after Day 2 will advance to Championship Saturday.