PARIS, Tenn. — Briarwood Christian’s Tucker Smith and Hayden Marbut increased their lead on Day 2 of the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School National Championship at Kentucky Lake presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors.
With a mixed bag of smallmouth and largemouth bass that weighed 17 pounds, 5 ounces Friday, the duo from Alabama now has a two-day total of 39-7.
Smith is in pursuit of his third-straight National Championship title, and he and Marbut hold nearly a 10-pound lead over the second-place team of Flint Davis and James Henemyre from Lee County High School in Georgia heading into the final day.
Despite a later flight than the previous morning, Smith said he and Marbut started their day strong by catching three quality smallmouth. But conditions began to change as a cold front pushed through, making the bite much tougher.
“It was super windy today,” Smith said. “Yesterday was slick calm and that kind of helped the topwater bite. That’s why we didn’t catch them as well this morning.”
“That wind definitely hurt,” Marbut added. “Once the rain came through, we had a one-hour period where it got calm again and that’s when we caught our last three.”
Smith and Marbut did not get another bite until 1:30 or 2 p.m. but managed to fill their limit and cull twice after the first round of rain and storms pushed through and the lake calmed down.
During the afternoon hours, Marbut said he and Smith ran a lot of water they found during the previous day.
“We did fish a bunch of new water,” Marbut said. “Yesterday, we had those fish so early that we went and kind of practiced around. Today, we were struggling some toward the end of the day so we had to hit some of the spots we found.”
Davis and Henemyre also found their bites more scattered than the previous day, only bringing four fish to the scales for 12-5 and a two-day total of 29-8.
“There was more cloud cover and a lot of wind, and when that happens, the fish scatter out and they aren’t positioned right,” Davis said. “The sun is what helped us a lot yesterday so hopefully it will peek out tomorrow.”
The Lee County duo caught two fish on their first spot, Henemyre said, and did not catch another fish for about two or three hours. The rest of the day, Davis and Henemyre threw crankbaits down the bank to add fish but fell one short of a limit.
Regardless of the outcome, Davis said he is thrilled to be in the final Top 12 and fishing for the championship on Saturday.
“It’s amazing,” he added. “Last year was the first year Lee County started a fishing team so to be here and have a chance tomorrow means a lot.”
Dylan May and Adam Troyer of Brownsburg High School in Indiana started the day in seventh-place but caught a limit of 12-15 to jump into third heading into Championship Saturday. Although there were boats on their starting spot when they arrived, May said Troyer caught a fish almost immediately.
“We just kept grinding that area and got three keepers off of that by 10:30 a.m.,” May said. “We went and hit a couple different areas and came back and caught a 4-pounder. We went fishing the rest of the day and ended up with one more keeper at the end of the day.”
May and Troyer weren’t the only team to make a sizable jump in the standings. After starting the day in 41st, Blake and Logan Sparkman from Chiles High School in Florida secured four fish for 18-1 to move into fourth place with 24-4. Tennessee’s Mt. Juliet High Schoolers Brady Duncan and Mason Huddleston started the day in 98th and moved all the way to ninth with an 18-7 limit and a two-day total of 21-7.
Smith and Marbut’s 7-5 largemouth from Day 1 remains the big bass of the tournament heading into Day 3.
The Top 12 teams will take off from Paris Landing Saturday at 7 a.m. CT and return for weigh-in starting at 3 p.m.