Illinois team wins high school classic

TULSA, Okla. — While the pros slugged it out on Grand Lake for bass fishing’s world championship a high school team from Illinois earned another coveted title.

That event was the Costa Bassmaster High School Classic held during the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro.

Winning the high school title in impressive fashion was Dailus Richardson and Trevor McKinney. The students from Benton High School in Illinois caught a 5-bass limit weighing 18 pounds, 11 ounces from Lake Hudson, which is on the Grand River just below the Classic fishery.

Bailey Fain and Justin Selvidge of Lenoir High School in Tennessee took second place with 2 bass weighing 11-14. Daniel Jarvis and Hunter Silverstrim of the Queen City Bassmasters earned third place with 2 bass weighing 9-14. Fain and Selvidge caught the tournament’s biggest bass weighing 6-9.

Richardson and McKinney spent 4 days scouting the lake with fair success. They encountered relatively clear water and windy weather, two conditions that worked in favor of their strategy. All that changed on tournament day when the same water turned muddy and calm.

“We had to go searching for clear water to make our pattern work,” said Richardson. “The water was really muddy on most of the lake.”

They found what they needed after running more than 1 hour from the launch ramp. The anglers concentrated in the back of a narrow creek where the water was clearer than surrounding area.

The two lures chosen by the team to win the tournament have unusual back-stories. McKinney just yesterday went shopping at the Bassmaster Classic Expo and found two lures to try today. Those were a pair of Lucky Craft Skeet Reese SKT MR crankbaits.

“We knew a lot of fish around here are caught around on square bill crankbait,” said McKinney.

Credit the spontaneous shopping trip with the win.

“In the first two casts I caught keepers and knew we were on to something good,”
said McKinney.

During practice, and without much success, McKinney used a 1/2-ounce Lunker Lure flipping jig. He pitched the jig around the logs and laydown trees lining the shoreline.

Alternatively, Richardson used an unconventional lure for the time and place of the tournament. He described the lure as a small jighead attached to a tiny rotating spinner. Crappie anglers recognize the lure as a Road Runner jig.

Richardson is fond of the tiny lure because he hand pours the leadhead lures and makes them. As success continued on the square bill both anglers eventually fished with the lure to complete a limit.

Primary casting targets were isolated wood along a rocky shoreline. The bass were likely using the area to migrate into shallow water and eventually spawn.

Top teams affiliated with the B.A.S.S. High School Nation earned the chance to compete in this tournament.

The Top 2 teams from the Costa Bassmaster High School Opens in the Southern, Central and Midwest regions qualified. The Top 2 teams from the Costa Bassmaster High School National Championship held last August on Kentucky Lake automatically qualified. Meeting the same criteria were the top teams from the exhibition event held at the 2015 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro. The final two teams invited were the best two teams from Oklahoma.