MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. — Tyner Redden and Hayes Grooms of Greenbrier, Ark., had plenty of fun Sunday on Norfork Lake, and it was rather rewarding.
Their limit of five bass weighing16 pounds, 5 ounces gave them the victory in the 2019 Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Central Open presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors.
“It was fun,” Grooms said. “It’s a good feeling. We put in a lot of hard work. It’s paying off.”
The team, which fishes for the Greenbrier Fishing Club, topped the 83-team field with a catch that was anchored by a 6-5 largemouth.
“It was our first fish of the day,” said Redden, who was throwing a jig to bushes when the big fish bit 10 feet from the boat. “I knew he was big, but then I saw it. It got me nervous because it got stuck in a bush for a little awhile. It just unwrapped itself eventually.”
The pair said they whooped and hollered when they realized it was a 6-pound class fish, a difference-maker on the clear-water fishery. It sure changed the mood on the boat as the team had experienced trolling motor issues early in the morning, That big bass three hours into the day started them on their way.
Both 10th-graders, Redden and Grooms are fishing three high school circuits with Redden’s father, Jonathan, serving as boat captain. Redden and Grooms earned $1,000 for their fishing club, which included $200 for the Big Bass award. They finished more than 2 pounds ahead of second-place anglers Connor Crafton and Jade Craft of NEA Youth Fishing in Arkansas, who had 14-0.
The event paid 12 places, and the Top 10 percent of the field — eight teams — qualified to fish the High School National Championship, which will feature around 300 teams that will vie for $150,000 in scholarship prizes.
The team of Keaton Bassham and Huntley York of Arkansas Youth Bassers won the Bassmaster Junior Central Open, which was also held on Norfork and featured anglers from second through eighth grades.
Weighing in before the high school event, Bassham and York had the only limit, which weighed 10-5.
“I’m excited,” Bassham said. “We’re ready to go to Tennessee for the Junior National Championship.”
The team caught their fish on purple and pumpkin floating worms. The event had eight paid entries with the winners receiving $150 for their bass club.
In second place was the team of Nic Sitton and Dawson Cooper of Greenbrier, Ark. They actually tied Brady Horton and Rhett Horton, also of Arkansas, with 6-5, but their big bass of 4-7 was the tiebreaker. The team earned $75 for second and $50 for big bass, which they said will go to “buying some new baits.”