RUSSELL COUNTY, Ky. — Luke Stewart and Austin Craze were one of only three tandems to catch a limit on Sunday, and their 10-pound, 1-ounce haul was just enough to win the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster Junior Series at Lake Cumberland.
Luke, 11, and Austin, 10, hail from the tiny town of Clay, W.Va., population 500, but they fished big in the derby that featured 32 duos from seven different states. The first cousins won $517 for the Clay County Middle School and Clay County Elementary School bass fishing team, part of a $1,360 purse split by the top four teams.
“The boys caught three fish on swimbaits and then caught two spawning fish, a smallmouth and a largemouth on a white wacky rig,” said the boys’ boat captain Mike Samples, who is Luke’s father and Austin’s uncle. “We were fishing in only a couple feet of water, mostly in the back of pockets around midlake. There were only five keepers today, but they were the right ones.”
The heavy of their bag was a 3-6 smallmouth Luke caught with the wacky rig.
“It swam into a bush, so I had to get it out of there,” Luke said. “Then he came right into the net. When I hooked it, I thought it was gonna be a big fish.”
Austin caught a 2-pound largemouth on a clear, 5-inch Senko worm to start the day right. He lost a 5-pounder later in the day that the boys wound up not needing to claim victory in the one-day event.
“This place is a lot like where we fish at home,” Austin said. “There are a lot of trees and a lot of rocks.”
The win continued a hot streak for the boys. Luke paired with his dad to win a 75-boat tournament three weeks ago on Summersville Lake back in West Virginia, and he and Austin teamed to win the state’s B.A.S.S. Nation Youth Championship last week.
The Kentucky team of Miles and Macgregor Allen (Holy Trinity) finished second with three fish weighing 9-12. They caught the big bass of the day — a 4-0 that earned them a $100 cash prize.
The Tennessee tandem of Jackson Leath and Hudson Clark (Mt. Juliet Fishing) placed third with five bass weighing 7-9, and Landon Gabby and Carson Bruner of the Southern Illinois Future Anglers finished fourth with a limit weighing 6-12.
The tournament was hosted by the Russell County Chamber of Commerce and State Dock on Lake Cumberland.