PARIS, Tenn. — The Pickens High School team of Spencer Childers and Owen Moss fell short of a limit today but still took over the lead of the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series National Championship presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods at Kentucky Lake.
Childers and Moss caught four bass weighing 16 pounds, 5 ounces, to move up from third place and take the lead with 34-14. Childers said he had a chance at a fifth keeper. “I had one on today just for a second and lost it,” he said. “It was a decent fish that would have helped.”
The Georgia anglers fished the same pattern as Thursday and stayed on their primary spot the whole day. Childers said they used different lures and kept going back and forth along the spot. He disclosed they are fishing deep and just working their lures through the Asian carp that are everywhere in the lake.
The team caught three bass before their halftime break and landed their final one in the afternoon, according to Moss. The 15-year-old Moss usually fishes for spotted bass on Lake Lanier, Georgia, and has made some adjustments to catch largemouth at Kentucky Lake.
Both anglers have faith in the spot they found in practice and think they can catch another heavy limit Saturday. “We definitely have enough fish there,” Childers said. “We just have to grind it out and hopefully catch five more.”
Childers placed third in last year’s national championship while paired with another teammate. He recently signed on with the Bethel University bass team. Moss is a sophomore fishing in his first championship.
Thursday’s leaders, Wes Rollo and Hunter Owens of Natchitoches Central High School in Louisiana, caught a 13-2 limit today but dropped to second place with 32-13. “We just didn’t get a lot of the big bites today like we did yesterday,” 16-year-old Owens said.
The high school seniors caught their limit in the morning and culled twice, adding a 4-pound ‘kicker’ to their limit.
“We did the same things today as we did yesterday and used all of the same lures,” said the 17-year-old Rollo. “As the day went on we switched up a little bit and did something a little different when the fish got finicky.”
Rollo said they had to make adjustments today because of a lack of wind, which he thinks made the fish less aggressive than they were Thursday.
Climbing up from fifth to third place with 31-9 were Grayson Morris and Tucker Smith of Briarwood Christian School in Birmingham, Ala., who caught a 14-15 limit today.
“We really just stuck to the same game plan,” Morris said. “We knew from practice that we were going to have to grind it out because during practice we didn’t get many bites. We put our heads down and fished hard today and it happened to work out for us.”
The Alabama anglers stayed in one area that they had found in practice and used several different lures,” Smith said. “We missed a couple of fish this morning, but we caught our big ones, so we really didn’t have many mistakes,” he said.
Other teams in the Top 5 are Josh Lee and Mason Cizek of the Karns Bass Fishing Club of Knoxville, Tenn., in fourth place with 29-1, and Gracie Herbold and Aaron Cherry, Heartland Bass Team, Ala., fifth, 28-10.
Childers and Moss lead a field of 670 anglers from 337 teams vying for the national title. The field consists of two-angler teams representing 256 schools from 36 states and three foreign countries.
An adult boat captain accompanies each pair of student anglers and operates the outboard motor. The teams must take a 15-minute halftime break after four hours of fishing. The high school teams are eligible to win $118,000 in scholarship money. B.A.S.S. and its sponsors are contributing $22,000 and Bethel University in McKenzie, Tenn., will award the remaining $96,000 to the Top 2 teams.
The full field was cut to the Top 12 teams after today’s weigh-in. The remaining teams in contention will take off Saturday at 5:45 a.m. at Paris Landing State Park, and the weigh-in to crown a champion will begin at 2:30 p.m. in downtown Paris.