Top fishing teams compete in B.A.S.S. High School, Junior Championships

PARIS, Tenn. — High school bass fishing’s elite teams are preparing to compete in the ultimate match of skills at the Costa Bassmaster High School National Championship presented by TNT Fireworks. The championship is July 22-25 on Kentucky Lake in Paris, Tenn.

“We are thrilled to host this tournament on beautiful Kentucky Lake,” said David Hamilton, CEO of the Henry County Tourism Authority. “Kentucky Lake is one of the top lakes for bass fishing, and we are excited for these high school anglers to return to compete for the national championship title.” 

Teams will compete for $75,000 in scholarships and prizes. Schools participating in the B.A.S.S. Nation High School program are eligible to qualify two-angler teams for the championship. Competing for the high school and junior titles are more than 160 qualified teams representing 37 states. 

“Just qualifying for the national championship is an achievement,” said Hank Weldon, manager of the B.A.S.S. high school and college programs. “Getting this far requires a lot of skill and dedication to advance through the local tournaments and beyond.” 

The high school field is reduced to the Top 10 teams after the second day of competition. Teams ranked 11th through 50th places will fish on the third day at Carroll County 1,000 Acre Recreational Lake. The best two teams will then join the Top 10 for the final day of competition on Kentucky Lake. 

A coach whose role is mentoring the anglers will accompany each pair of anglers in the boat. Each team is required to take a 15-minute half-time break after four hours of fishing. One-minute timeouts are optional. The breaks allow the coaches and anglers to share strategies and stay hydrated and energized during the day. 

Recent unseasonably heavy rainfall has the lakes filled above normal summer pool levels. Those conditions have the bass scattered along inundated shoreline cover and are challenging to catch. All that is expected to change with lake levels returning to normal. 

“The anglers should experience the best ledge fishing of the summer by tournament time,” said Garry Mason, coach of the Bethel University bass fishing team. “The bass will be easier to catch, and it will likely set up the chance for some big catches.” 

He added, “Carroll County 1,000 Acre Recreational Lake produces great numbers of bass, and I predict the junior and second-chance anglers will find fishing success there, too.” 

Bethel University’s campus in McKenzie is the site of the tournament rules meeting and dinner on the eve of competition. Special guests include Casey Ashley, winner of the 2015 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro, Dave Ittner of Yamaha, Mason and Fishing University TV host Charlie Ingram. Attendance is limited to contestants and coaches. 

On July 22-23, the weigh-ins are at Paris Landing State Park. On July 24, the second-chance and junior weigh-ins are in downtown Huntingdon, Tenn. The final weigh-in on July 25 is on the McKenzie campus of Bethel University.

High school championship week includes also the B.A.S.S. Youth Nation Junior Championship, July 24-25. Teams compete at Carroll County 1,000 Acre Recreational Lake. The B.A.S.S. Youth Nation is designed to seed the high school program. 

“We are excited that the junior championship qualifier will be held at Carroll County 1,000 Acre Recreational Lake,” said Brad Hurley, president of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce. “We are looking forward to a big week with the final junior and high school championship weigh-ins set for the campus of Bethel University.”