Smith, McNeil win South Carolina

DREHER ISLAND, S.C. — Tucker Smith and Carter McNeil of Abbeville High School won the South Carolina B.A.S.S. Nation High School Championship in November on Lake Murray. The pair caught 11.31 pounds, despite the mixture of snow, rain, fog and high winds that plagued the tournament.

The event, held at Dreher Island State Park, hosted 85 high school teams — all of whom sat at launch for an hour and a half waiting for visibility to improve.

“The anglers, somewhat numbed by the rain and cold, left for what turned out to be a real test of the best in not only skills but endurance to become the new South Carolina high school champions,” said Randy Vaughn, youth director for the South Carolina B.A.S.S. Nation.

Because of the conditions and to ensure angler safety, competitors were permitted to come off the water to warm up during the day.

The tournament winners, Smith and McNeil, will be invited to compete in the Bassmaster High School Classic exhibition tournament that will be held during the 2015 GEICO Bassmaster Classic in Greenville, S.C., and they’ll weigh in on stage right before the Classic competitors do.

Smith and McNeil will also become a part of the South Carolina state team and compete in the Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation Southern Divisional in spring 2015.

Smith and McNeil will join the second place team of Tanner Bruynincky and Brad Wilson of North Augusta High School to compete in the 2015 Bassmaster High School National Championship in summer 2015.

In a separate Junior Bassmaster division, Hunter Temples, 12, of North Augusta Fishing Team won with 3.06 pounds.

“Even as the kids endured one of the toughest fishing conditions of the year, there were youth who asked when the next tournament will be held,” said Vaughn. “It is so exciting to witness the growth of the B.A.S.S. Nation High School program in just its second full year.”

The South Carolina B.A.S.S. Nation thanks all of its sponsors, including Marshals Marine, which cooked for the competitors, and Jim Williamson of Pure Fishing, who contributed product for the anglers.