Kyle Merritt wins Border Bass tournament

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Photo courtesy of Joey Bruyninckx

Kyle Merritt, center, won the Border Bass tournament on Clarks Hill in December 2015. Andrew Hackett, left, took second place, and Jake Blumling, right, took thrid.

APPLING, Ga. — Youth anglers from three B.A.S.S. Nation junior clubs and their boat captains competed in the Border Bass Adult and Youth Tournament, Dec. 12, at Clarks Hill Lake.

The event drew 30 teams consisting of a youth ranging in age from 11 to 18 years old paired with an adult boat captain, according to tournament director Joey Bruyninckx. The competitors came from the North Augusta Youth Fishing Team of South Carolina, Clarks Hill Youth Fishing Team of Georgia, and the Greenbrier High School club, also of Georgia.

The tournament format consists of two divisions with the anglers competing against each other to win prizes of rods and reels for the Top 5 finishers and big bass, while the adults fish for a separate pot of money for the Top 3 finishers and big bass.

Another $100 side pot was awarded to the boat captain whose youth partner caught the largest sack of the tournament. “That gives the adults more incentive to work with the kids throughout the day and teach them and not just leave them in the back of the boat like a co-angler,” Bruyninckx said.

The tournament was conceived three years ago, pitting South Carolina youth teams against the Georgia youth teams, but it has since evolved into an open event for all junior teams from the two states. Helping Bruyninckx run the event every year are members of the Clarks Hill Committee, a group of about 20 independent bass clubs from the Clarks Hill area.

Kyle Merritt of the Greenbrier High School team won the youth division with a five-fish limit weighing 11 pounds. His boat captain, Keith Williamson, earned the $100 side pot for helping Merritt win the youth division.

Rounding out the Top 5 were Andrew Hackett of Greenbrier, second place, 9.9 pounds; Jake Blumling, Greenbrier, third, 8.85; Simeon O’Meara, North Augusta, fourth, 8.68; and Sean Hall Jr., North Augusta, fifth, 8.2.

North Augusta’s Michael Burch won big bass honors with a 4.44-pounder.

A new feature for this year’s tournament was an entry fee of $10 per youth for a side pot awarded to the youth team with the most overall weight. The Greenbrier High School team won the $300 prize with a total weight of 45.98 pounds.