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High School: Springer and Say win Central Open

MANY, La. — Scott Springer and Trust Say, a pair of 17-year olds from the Chicago area, used a noontime flurry of big bass bites to power past the 241 other teams competing on Toledo Bend Reservoir on Sunday in the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Central Open presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.

The teens, who are part of the Christy, Springer and Say Community Club, boated a five-bass limit that weighed 21 pounds, 7 ounces, which was more than 2 pounds heavier than the second-place duo. That catch propelled Springer and Say into the High School national championship tournament, which will be held at an undisclosed location later this year. In all, 24 of the 242 teams (the Top 10 percent) earned a berth in the championship with their showing on Toledo Bend.

“I’m still in shock,” Springer said not long after he and Say hoisted the championship trophies above their heads to the delight of many hundreds of fans at Cypress Bend Park.

“I’m speechless,” Springer told the crowd.

Instead, the Illinois residents let their fishing do the talking. They had approximately 6 pounds of bass on board at noon. But they didn’t fret, despite BASSTrakk showing other teams pushing the pace ahead of them. They remained calm, they said, mainly because their best spot in practice was located off a point that had been most productive in the afternoon sunshine.

So when the sun shot through overcast skies late Sunday morning, Springer and Say headed straight there.

A quick electronics check had them giddy, as a 10-mph morning breeze stacked baitfish into their spot. Springer and Say started throwing Alabama Rigs toward the point from about 20 yards away and hardly had to let the lures fall through the water column before getting bit.

They had approximately 12 bites in the span of an hour, including a 7-pounder that anchored their total. There was enough weight in the livewell, in fact, that the team removed the divider from its center to allow more space.

“The bites were coming in about 8 to 10 feet of water,” Say said. “And they were coming fast.”

The biggest bite was a thrill for both anglers.

“I was burning that A-Rig pretty fast,” Springer said. “I was throwing it on a Shimano rod and reel. The big fish was the last one of the day. I wasn’t expecting it at all. I hooked into him and I just knew it was a giant. I told my partner ‘Get the net, because this is what we need.’”

Say said the big bass didn’t get a clean bite on the Alabama rig, so getting it into the net was a careful process.

“I had to kind of slide the net up under it,” Say said. “(The rig) was in the corner of his mouth. I said ‘Oh no!’ It was pretty scary.”

Once that kicker bass was in the boat, Springer and Say breathed a sigh of relief. Still, the teens only thought they had about 19 pounds, but they took the hot seats early in the weigh-in, and were there until the very end.

The victory provided Springer and Say with a bounty of prizes. They won $2,000 for their fishing team, and they picked up a $250 gift certificate from Mossy Oak, as well as an Abu Garcia rod/reel combo. The win also earned them a combined $20,000 scholarship offer to compete with the McKendree University fishing team.

The fact that McKendree also is located in Illinois is an added bonus, they said.

“It’s an incredible feeling,” Springer said.

Christopher Capdeboscq and Forrest Lagarde of Northlake Christian School in Covington, La., finished second with 19-4. That earned them trophies, $1,500 for their school, a $250 Mossy Oak certificate and Abu Garcia rod/reel combos. Grayson Morris and Tucker Smith of Alabama’s Briarwood Christian School placed third with 18-5. They won $1,250 for their school and trophies and rod/reel combos for themselves.

The Big Bass Award went to Colby Miller and Jaden Cedars of Oak Hill (La.) High School who boated a 9-3 lunker. Capdeboscq and Lagarde caught an 8-4 bass to anchor the Northlake Christian bag.

Toledo Bend Lake Country hosted the event.