ANDERSON, S.C. — Lake Smith and Micah Horton live only about an hour from Lake Hartwell, so they weren’t going to let an opportunity to fish in Sunday’s Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster Junior Series event there get past them.
The young duo from Woodruff, S.C., caught an early limit, made a few key upgrades later in the day and won the event on local waters with a three-bass limit of 7 pounds, 4 ounces.
It wasn’t an extremely heavy bag, but it was enough to clinch the victory on a warm, clear day in upstate South Carolina.
“It feels good to win,” said Horton, 14, who just started his freshman year at Woodruff High School. “We fish there a lot. It was tough today, but we thought we could get a limit, at least.”
It didn’t take long for the tandem to put that limit into the livewell. They fished a rocky dropoff in the Seneca River area to start the day and were successful throwing a blue-hued crankbait and a variety of green pumpkin jigs in about 15 feet of water.
The limit only produced about 4 pounds, said their captain Kerry Smith (Lake’s dad). So they moved into shallow water around noon and began flipping frogs and buzzbaits. The method was unproductive, but a move down the lake produced the bite they needed.
Lake Smith opted for a Lucky Craft Sammy in the silver pattern and a 3 1/4-pounder bit hard, providing the final bump their bag needed.
“We pulled up, and on the first cast it blew up (and missed the bait),” said Smith, also 14 and an eighth-grader at Woodruff Middle School. “He hit it the second time, though.”
“I knew it was a pretty big fish, so I got the net ready,” Horton added. “When he got into the net, it was a big relief.”
Winning is not new to the Smith/Horton team. The teens were victorious in three of the four junior events they fished in South Carolina this year even though this is the first season they’ve fished together competitively. Their win on Lake Hartwell earned them a spot in the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster Junior Series National Championship to be held Oct. 19-20.
Thirteen youth teams competed in the tournament. Hunter Thomas and Lane Lipscomb caught the big bass of the day (a 5-pounder) and finished second overall. They attend Chesnee (S.C.) Middle School, also located just more than an hour away from the takeoff and weigh-in venue of Green Pond Landing.
The tournament originally was scheduled to be held on Lake St. Clair in Michigan on Aug. 8 but was rescheduled and relocated.
Visit Anderson was the local host.