RUSSELL COUNTY, Ky. — Chanler Brake and Branden Duncan from Southwestern High School in Pulaski, Ky., were the final team to cross the stage Sunday afternoon at the Mossy Oak Bassmaster High School Series at Lake Cumberland presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors.
It was a perfect example of saving the best for last.
Duncan and Brake brought a mixed bag of 12 pounds, 9 ounces to the scales, taking home the victory over Brent Key and Hunter Canova from Lenoir City High School.
Along with 10 other teams, Duncan and Brake qualified for the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School National Championship presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors at Kentucky Lake scheduled for Oct. 22-24. They also won $1,102 for their fishing team.
“I’m super proud of them. They fished hard all day and it was a tough bite,” boat captain Josh Brake said.
After fishing a tournament at Tims Ford Lake in Tennessee the previous day, Duncan and Brake drove through the night to get back to Halcomb’s Landing in time for takeoff, taking just a 30-minute nap before takeoff time.
That didn’t stop them from running all the way up the river first thing in the morning, farther than any of the other 105 boats in the field, Josh said.
“We pretty much just went fishing,” Brake said. “Practice was definitely not as good as today.”
Duncan said they caught all of their fish on a black and blue jig, and Josh added that the duo landed every fish that bit.
Key and Canova spent much of the weigh-in on the hot seat after weighing four fish for 11-13. They fell shy of a limit, however, and fell short of first place by 14 ounces.
“I had another 3-pounder on first thing this morning but it came off,” Key said.
The Lenoir City team found success catching smallmouth on deep rocks with a Carolina rig.
“We came off practice thinking we were going to try and pick off some smallmouth,” Canova said. “It started slow on tournament day, but as we went through the day we started picking them off.”
Keaton Smith and Jaydon Coggins, also of Southwestern High School, secured the Big Bass of the tournament with a 4-7 smallmouth bass, winning $100 for their program.