Archive for Tournament News

Eldridge, Conway win Teen Anglers season opener at Lake of the Ozarks

Eldridge, Conway win Teen Anglers season opener at Lake of the Ozarks

John Neporadny Jr.

Osage Beach, Mo.—Although the Teen Anglers bass tournament circuit opened on the first day of spring, March 20 delivered a blast of winter weather to young bass anglers at the Lake of the Ozarks.

A field of 154 boats of high school and middle school anglers encountered freezing temperatures and a cold northwest wind during the morning takeoff. “It was really cold,” said Ozark High School angler Keeley Combs of her morning ride.

Lew’s CEO Lynn Reeves presented first-place plaques to Mount Vernon High’s Clay Eldridge (left) and Noel  Conway, the winners of the Teen Anglers bass tournament series opener March 20 at the Lake of the Ozarks.

Lew’s CEO Lynn Reeves presented first-place plaques to Mount Vernon High’s Clay Eldridge (left) and Noel Conway, the winners of the Teen Anglers bass tournament series opener March 20 at the Lake of the Ozarks.

A cold front that passed through the lake area over the weekend slowed down the action on competition day but Mount Vernon High School anglers Clay Eldridge and Noel Conway managed to catch a five-fish limit weighing 19.95 pounds to win the high school division of the Teen Anglers event. Both anglers were fishing in their first high school tournament ever for the newly formed Mount Vernon team. The rookie competitors admitted when they practiced on Table Rock Lake the Thursday before the tournament it was the first time they had ever used bait-cast reels. Eldridge said the practice at Table Rock was the first time he had ever fished a large lake and Conway noted his practice session was the first time he had ever ran a trolling motor.

The Mount Vernon anglers overcame their inexperience and some missed opportunities to complete their limit about 15 minutes before they had to weigh in. “This morning we lost several fish,” Conway said. “I probably lost three or four 5-pound fish this morning. I just didn’t get the hook set right.”

They caught all of their fish on white spinnerbaits with double Colorado blades about 8 to 12 feet deep along secondary points. The winners caught a few bass in spurts during the morning, but the action picked up for them later in the day. “Once it stated getting a little warmer we started catching more of them,” Eldridge said.

Receiving second-place plaques from Lew’s CEO Lynn Reeves for their high finish at the Teen Anglers season opener March 20 at the Lake of the Ozarks were the brother-and-sister team of Dalton and Keeley Combs from Ozark High School.

Receiving second-place plaques from Lew’s CEO Lynn Reeves for their high finish at the Teen Anglers season opener March 20 at the Lake of the Ozarks were the brother-and-sister team of Dalton and Keeley Combs from Ozark High School.

The Ozark High School brother-and-sister team of Dalton and Keeley Combs finished in second place with a limit weighing 18.97 pounds. Dalton Combs won the Teen Anglers Championship last year, but his sister Keeley, who caught two Lake of the Ozarks keepers, was fishing in her first tournament.

Jerking pearl-and-chartreuse Megabass suspending stickbaits along bluff ends and in the backs of pockets produced all of the Combs’ keepers. “I threw it so shallow that I couldn’t reel down or I would get hung,” Dalton said. “So as soon as I threw out there I would start jerking. All of my fish came very shallow (about 2 to 6 feet deep). We mainly keyed on big rocks or pea gravel that had a little log or something out of the ordinary along the bank.”

Corbin Mertgen and Heath Renno of Lincoln High School never got a chance to practice for the tournament because they had a baseball game the previous day. However they still managed to take third place in the Teen Anglers event with a 16.43-pound limit. The Lincoln anglers finished fifth in last year’s Teen Anglers event at Lake of the Ozarks.

Lew’s CEO Lynn Reeves congratulated Lincoln High School anglers Heath Renno and Corbin Mertgen on their third-place finish in the Teen Anglers season opener March 20 at the Lake of the Ozarks.

Lew’s CEO Lynn Reeves congratulated Lincoln High School anglers Heath Renno and Corbin Mertgen on their third-place finish in the Teen Anglers season opener March 20 at the Lake of the Ozarks.

“Early on we worked switching back and forth between (blue/orange belly) jerkbaits and (white and chartreuse) double willowleaf spinnerbaits,” Renno said of their pattern. “We just worked them slow along banks pretty much all day.” He noted they caught two fish early, but then the action died the next four hours and picked up again the last two hours when the sun broke through the clouds.

Most of the fish they caught were holding about 7 to 10 feet deep. “We were just keying on small rock secondary points where the wind was blowing into the banks,” Mertgen said.

Gage Meadors of Logan-Rogersville won the middle school division while Logan-Rogersville’s Kendall Meadors took second place and Sterling Scott of Park Hill South finished third.

The tournament drew 306 high school anglers and 18 middle school contestants from 46 schools.

The next Teen Anglers tournament will be held April 17 at Table Rock Lake. For more details on the Teen Anglers circuit, visit www.teenanglers.net.

Ozark High’s Combs and Satterly win Teen Anglers Championship

Ozark High’s Combs and Satterly win Teen Anglers Championship

Stockton, Mo.—After top five finishes by Ozark High School teams in all three qualifying events, Ozark’s Dalton Combs and Joe Satterly finally sealed the deal for their school by winning the Teen Anglers Championship June 13-14 at Stockton Lake.

In previous Teen Angler events, Ozark teams finished fourth at Lake of the Ozarks, fifth at Table Rock and Combs and Satterly placed fourth at the Stockton qualifier. This time Combs and Satterly topped a field of 79 teams from 25 schools with a two-day catch of 21.99 pounds to win the inaugural championship. They each collected a $1,500 scholarship from Lew’s and earned the first big bass award (two $500 gift certificates to Sportsman’s Factory Outlet) with a 6.50-pound largemouth. Lew’s provided $10,000 in scholarship money to the top five finishing teams and $2,000 in gift certificates to its Sportsman’s Factory Outlet for the three big bass awards.

Ozark High School anglers Dalton Combs (left) and Joe Satterly won the inaugural Teen Anglers Championship June 13-14 at Stockton Lake with a two-day catch of 10 bass weighing 21.99 pounds.

Ozark High School anglers Dalton Combs (left) and Joe Satterly won the inaugural Teen Anglers Championship June 13-14 at Stockton Lake with a two-day catch of 10 bass weighing 21.99 pounds.

The first competition day Combs and Satterly weighed in a five-fish limit totaling only 8.79 pounds and held 24th place in the standings. “We hit points that were really deep and caught a bunch of keepers but we just couldn’t get the right ones,” Combs said.

They caught all of their fish on a 3/16-ounce shaky jighead with a watermelon candy Zoom Trick Worm. “We would shake it then give a long pause and usually when we would go back to shaking the fish would be on there,” Combs said.

The second day they employed the same technique to catch their limit by 10 a.m. “We tried switching up going to deeper water and bigger lures,” said Satterly. They culled out two fish and finished the day with 13.20 pounds to clinch the championship.

Republic High’s Brandon Durr and Hunter Gill finished second and each earned $1,250 in scholarship money with 10 largemouth bass weighing 21.87 pounds. “Stockton’s not necessarily our home lake but we do get to come up here pretty often,” Gill said. “We got to practice Thursday and it was pretty tough but we found out what we were going to do Friday.” Durr said. They caught their fish both days on either 1/4-ounce shaky jigheads with a green pumpkin Zero worms or 7/16-ounce shaky jigheads with green pumpkin magnum finesse worms dragged slowly along main lake points and drop-offs 15 feet deep.

Hudsen Lee and Trent Distler of Helias High School placed third with eight bass weighing 21.83 and received $1,000 apiece in scholarship money. They led the tournament the first day with a 15.30-limit but fell to third after catching only three keepers weighing 6.53 the final day. Both days the Helias anglers threw Zara Spooks and buzz baits in the morning and followed up with shaky head worms and jigs in the afternoon. They found their fish in scattered brush about 6 to 15 feet deep.

Hillcrest High’s Garrett Moeller and Ashley Ruggles settled into fourth place with 21.13 pounds and collected $750 apiece in scholarship money. Moeller noted the first day they caught their fish throwing horsehead jigs with Arkansas shiner Keitech swimbaits and crankbaits and flipping Texas-rigged 10-inch plastic worms to riprap around bridges. Ruggles said the fishing was “a lot tougher” the second day when they had to catch their fish flipping 10-inch worms to flooded bushes 1 to 3 feet deep.

Finishing fifth with 20.05 pounds and receiving $500 each in scholarship money was the Republic High team of Jace Houchin and Colton Mease. They caught all of their fish both days on spinnerbaits, Pigsticker jigs, and shaky head jigs along wind-blown bluff ends. The Republic anglers also won the third big bass award of two $200 gift certificates with a 5.56-pounder. The second big bass award of two $300 gift certificates went to Logan-Rogersville High’s Garrett Jernigan and Tad Mitchell with a 5.93-pound largemouth.

The raffle ticket drawing to raise money for a Teen Anglers scholarship fund was held after the Day 2 weigh-in. Leon Holt of Springfield was the winner of the 2014 Ford F150 XL pickup truck.

Gill and Durr win Teen Anglers finale

Republic High’s Gill and Durr win Teen Anglers finale

Kimberling City, Mo.—Republic High School continued its domination of Missouri high school bass tournaments with another victory in the Teen Anglers circuit season finale May 16 at Table Rock Lake.

Republic High School anglers Hunter Gill and Brandon Durr won the Teen Anglers circuit season finale at Table Rock Lake with a five-fish limit weighing 12.33 pounds.

Republic High School anglers Hunter Gill and Brandon Durr won the Teen Anglers circuit season finale at Table Rock Lake with a five-fish limit weighing 12.33 pounds.

Republic’s Brandon Durr and Hunter Gill teamed up to top a 94-boat field with a five-fish limit weighing 12.33 pounds. The same two anglers won the Missouri High School Fall Classic Bass Tournament at Lake of the Ozarks last October and were instrumental in helping Republic win the 2014 Bass Pro Shops Open Championship of High School Fishing at Table Rock. A Republic team of Gerald Snook and Josh Perkins also won the previous Teen Anglers event April 11 at Stockton Lake.

Chasing schooling bass was the key to victory for Durr and Gill at Table Rock. “When it was cloudy we threw Zara Spooks and when it was sunny we were sticking with spoons and catching fish under the surface then,” Gill said.

Durr and Gill found their fish the Wednesday before the tournament when they fished a tournament at Cape Fair. “We did pretty good up the James River so we kind of got the gut feeling to start up there,” said Durr, who recalled they had a limit by 8 a.m. “We culled all day long and probably had three or four limits of fish.”

The Republic anglers fished main lake structure and kept their boat over depths of 30 feet. Durr estimated the fish were suspended 15 to 20 feet deep.

Gill noted they experimented with the retrieve speed of their Spooks when the fish were surfacing. “One of us would work it a little faster and one of us would work it a little slower but it really didn’t matter,” he said. When the surface activity subsided, Gill used a 1/2-ounce Dixie Jett Spoon while Durr relied on a Jewel Bait Company Scuba Spoon to continue catching schooling bass.

“If they were schooling and we were just catching Kentuckies, after we had a limit we tried to leave those fish and find other schooling fish that had largemouth in it,” said Gill. Their winning bag included three largemouth and two smallmouth bass.

Ava High School angler Cody Huff fished solo in the season finale and finished second with an 11.92-pound limit consisting of four smallmouth and one quality largemouth. “I ended up throwing topwaters (Zara Spooks and Red Fins) all day long and ended up catching the fish I needed,” said Huff, who recently received a scholarship to fish for the Bethel College bass team.
Huff followed around one school of fish by either locating the school on his electronics or watching for busting fish. “I just waited for them to get active,” he said.

The Glendale High duo of Jack Rankin and Mason McDonald took third place with an 11.63 limit. They caught one keeper on a Red Fin in their first 30 minutes of fishing but then switched to the small jig and stickworm combo known as the Ned Rig. “The first one we caught was a keeper and from then on they just kept on coming and we ended up catching eight keepers on the Ned Rig,” Rankin said. McDonald noted they kept their boat over a depth of 20 feet and cast their Ned Rigs to pea gravel banks.

Fourth place went to Nixa High anglers Brett Linville and Evan Ouellette who weighed in an 11.52 limit. They caught most of their fish slowly dragging a green pumpkin tube bait with a 1/4-ounce jighead along secondary points and deep pockets, according to Ouellette. Linville said he caught one quality bass fishing the tube around a boat dock.
Ozark High’s Austin Thrap and Tristan Cunninham brought in an 11.17-pound limit to finish fifth. Thrap noted they caught all of their fish bouncing or dragging 5/16-ounce Ned Rigs and 7/16-ounce wobble head jigs with Jackall Cover Craws around docks along pea gravel and chunk rock banks.

The big bass of the tournament weighing 3.67 pounds was caught by Willard High’s Austin Ware and Drew Underhill.
Winning Anglers of the Year honors were Hillcrest High’s Ashley Ruggles and Garrett Moeller who finished with 618 points.
The Teen Anglers Championship will be held June 13-14 at Stockton Lake.

For more results from the Table Rock season finale or information about the Teen Anglers circuit, visit www.teenanglers.net.

Republic High School Fishing Team Wins Stockton

Republic High’s Snook, Perkins Win Teen Anglers Event at Stockton

Stockton, Mo.—Two of Republic High Schools neophyte anglers became emerging stars on their team by winning the Teen Anglers tournament April 11 at Stockton Lake.

Gerald Snook and Josh Perkins teamed up with boat captain Jerry Hamilton to win the high school event with a five-fish limit weighing 14.13 pounds. They also earned first big bass honors with a 6.49-pound largemouth.

“I am really proud of both of those kids because when they started they were rank amateurs,” said Republic Coach Jim Huson. “Not to say that they are experts at this point but they have developed in the program for the last two years and both of them have worked hard and their skills finally paid off for them.”

Republic High School anglers Gerald Snook (left) and Josh Perkins won the second tournament of the Teen Anglers circuit April 11 at Stockton Lake with a five-fish limit weighing 14.13 pounds.

Republic High School anglers Gerald Snook (left) and Josh Perkins won the second tournament of the Teen Anglers circuit April 11 at Stockton Lake with a five-fish limit weighing 14.13 pounds.


Both anglers caught all of their fish on a 1/4-ounce shaky head and a green pumpkin Strike King Zero that they retrieved with a lift-and-drop presentation. “We kind of stuck with rock ledges and stayed within 25 feet of water,” Snook said. “We would throw to the bank and let it fall off the rock ledges.”

Perkins claimed his partner carried their team. “He caught all of the keepers and I caught a bunch of 14-inchers and other shorts,” said Perkins.

Snook and Perkins were unable to practice for the tournament so they relied on tips from other Republic teammates who got on the water during the week. “We just came down this morning and fished,” Snook said. “We just kind of went off what everybody else was catching them on during the week.”

Coach Huson’s strategy of stressing teamwork at every tournament paid off for Snook and Perkins. “We try to share information throughout our whole team as far as what the bite is and then we kind of work from there,” Huson said. “So everybody is on the same page when we hit the water.”

Spokane High School’s Austin “Chase” Horton and Bradley Cloud took second place with a 12.70-limit and had third big bass with a 4.45-pounder. Horton said they caught all of their fish about 8 feet deep on sexy shad jerkbaits that they worked with a 15-second pause.

Third place went to the Nixa High team of Brett Linville and Evan Ouellette with a limit weighing 12.67 pounds. Fishing a jig and a tube bait “slow and steady,” they caught all of their fish keying on chunk rocks in dirty water about 5 to 8 feet deep, according to Ouellette.

Ozark High’s Dalton Combs and Joe Satterly placed fourth with an 11.14-limit. Combs noted they fished a Wiggle Wart crankbait and shaky head in the morning and switched to a jerkbait when the wind picked up later in the day. “We caught a lot in the morning and then it just died off after that,” he said.

Teen Angler Lake of the Ozarks champions Bryce Soske and Kaleb Lenhert finished fifth in this event with a 10.83 limit. “We were fishing jigs all day along riprap and about halfway back in the coves on windblown points,” Lenhert said. The Park Hill South High anglers found most of their fish in the 5- to 10-foot range.

The Ozark High team of Sawyer Collins and Brennan Banks weighed in a 5.87-pound largemouth that earned them second big bass honors.

The tournament drew 83 teams from 21 Missouri high schools. For the full results of the Stockton tournament, visit www.teenanglers.net.

The final regular season tournament of the Teen Anglers circuit will be held May 16 at Table Rock Lake.

Park Hill South team wins first Teen Anglers tournament

Park Hill South team wins first Teen Anglers tournament

Osage Beach, Mo.—Making a 20-mile run on Lake of the Ozarks in snow and frigid temperatures paid off in a victory for Park Hill South High School anglers Bryce Soske and Kaleb Lenhert Saturday, March 28 at the Teen Anglers Tournament Series season opener.

Soske and Lenhert sacked up a five-fish limit weighing 16.58 pounds to top a field of 162 student anglers from across the state. The duo’s winning pattern consisted of jerking suspending stickbaits along wind-blown secondary points from the 36- to 39-mile mark of the Osage arm. Soske threw a Luck “E” Strike RC Stick in a black shadow hue and Lenhert jerked a black-and-silver Rapala suspending stickbait.

Park Hill South High School anglers Bryce Soske (left) and Kaleb Lenhert won the inaugural event of the Teen Anglers Tournament Series by catching a 16.58-pound limit Saturday, March 28 at Lake of the Ozarks.

Park Hill South High School anglers Bryce Soske (left) and Kaleb Lenhert won the inaugural event of the Teen Anglers Tournament Series by catching a 16.58-pound limit Saturday, March 28 at Lake of the Ozarks.

Park Hill South Co-Coach Gary Soske served as the boat captain for the winning anglers. “I thought they did a fine job,” Gary Soske said. “They stayed focused and fished the entire time. Obviously the weather was brutal but they are experienced so they were prepared for it with the proper clothes. The hands got cold a few times but that was about it.”

Lenhert said he likes fishing this time of year despite the cold weather. “It was the first tournament I had ever fished in the snow,” he said. Catching fish all day helped the teen anglers forget about the cold.

Both anglers fish Lake of the Ozarks frequently since their families own lake houses there. They had fished the lake during their spring break and the weekend before the tournament. “It wasn’t our first day on the lake in that area,” said Coach Soske. “We felt pretty confident going in. We knew where the fish were biting.”

The other top five teams winning trophies at Lake of the Ozarks were: Ross Thompson and Collin Kemp of Nixa High School in second place with a 16.34-pound limit; Ashley Ruggles and Garrett Moeller, Hillcrest High, third, three fish, 13.33; Cody Tumlin and Cameron Smith, Ozark High, fourth, 12.96 limit; and Corbin Mertgen and Heath Renno, Lincoln High, fifth, four fish, 12.65.

Winning big bass gift certificates from Sportsmans Warehouse were Dakota Pierce and Derrick Bushong of Ava High with the first big bass weighing 6.98 pounds; Mertgen and Renno, second big bass, 6.30; and Ruggles and Moeller, third big bass, 5.93.

The tournament was the inaugural event of the Teen Anglers Tournament Series and Tournament Director Randy Conlon said he was “ecstatic” about the turnout. “I thought it went excellent,” he said. “We had 22 school districts show up. We were up close to 50 boats (before the tournament) and we took a lot more entries at the ramp. We had put out a deadline, but we had some calls after that and we ended up taking 30-something teams at the boat ramp.”

The tournament director did have to solve a unique dilemma for one of the contestants before the takeoff. Conlon said he “got tickled” by one girl who asked if he could stop the tournament at noon so she could leave and make it home in time for her prom. He solved the problem by telling her she could either weigh in her fish early or leave early and let her partner continue to fish the rest of the day “In 20 years (of holding tournaments) that is one question I have never been asked,” Conlon said.

For the full results of the tournament and more information on the Teen Anglers Tournament Series, visit www.teenanglers.net.

Republic High anglers win Fall Classic

Missouri High School Fall Classic Bass Tournament

Republic High anglers win Fall Classic
By John Neporadny Jr.

Osage Beach, Mo.—Despite a bluebird sky and bright sunshine, Republic High School anglers Brandon Durr and Hunter Gill stuck with a topwater pattern all day to win the first Missouri High School Fall Classic bass tournament Sunday, Oct. 26 at Lake of the Ozarks.
Durr and Gill weighed in a five-fish limit totaling 12.82 pounds to earn the first-place prize of $5,000 in scholarship money. “The tournament was pretty fun,” Durr said. “It was different for me because this was only the third time I have been on this lake. We practiced hard and fished even harder today. We got lucky and found a pattern and stuck with it.”

Republic High School anglers Brandon Durr and Hunter Gill won the first Missouri High School Fall Classic bass tournament at Lake of the Ozarks and earned $5,000 in scholarship money.

Republic High School anglers Brandon Durr and Hunter Gill won the first Missouri High School Fall Classic bass tournament at Lake of the Ozarks and earned $5,000 in scholarship money.

Gill noted he also had limited experience on Lake of the Ozarks. “I haven’t been on this lake much either,” he said. “We did pretty well in practice with buzz baits and just kind of copied that. We followed the shade (on competition day), which was a huge key later in the day.”
The Republic team steadily retrieved black War Eagle buzz baits along rocky banks with laydowns near the main lake. Gill estimated they triggered about seven or eight bites throughout the day and caught six keepers.

The tournament drew 88 two-man teams (accompanied by an adult boat captain) from 25 Missouri high schools. Scholarship money and prizes awarded to the high school anglers were donated by the following sponsors: Ranger Boats, Lew’s, Academy Sports and Outdoors, BassingBob.com, Anglers in Action, University of Missouri Bass Club, Fitz Fishing, Missouri Division of Tourism, P-Line, Creme Lures, Vicious Fishing, Midwest Fishing Tackle and Pin Oak Specialties, LLC.

Other Top Ten finishers winning scholarship money included Tad Mitchell and Garrett Jernigan of Logan-Rogersville High School, second place, 8.99 pounds, $4,000; Dalton Combs and Ethan VanHorn, Ozark High, third, 8.48, $3,500; Heath Renno and Corbin Mertgen, Lincoln High, fourth, 8.20, $3,000; Gavin White and Riley Fletcher, Cassville High, fifth, 7.54, $2,500; Ren Witte and Luke Ruprecht, Eureka High, sixth, 7.16, $2,000; Jacob Sauer and Bruno Tesoro, Affton High, seventh, 6.71, $1,500; Brock Andreasen and Mitch Bohon, Camdenton High, eighth, 6.56, $1,300; Grant Renken and Bryce Easter, Joplin High, ninth, 6.50, $1,200; Cody Huff and Colten Levan, Ava High, 10th, 6.28, $1,000.

The Lew’s Big Bass Awards went to Hillcrest High School’s Brady Angel and Colton Stocker for catching the big bass of the event weighing 5.35 pounds to win $750 in scholarship money, while Republic’s Durr and Gill had the second big bass of 4.29, $500 scholarship; and Logan-Rogersville’s Mitchell and Jernigan, had the third big bass of 4.14, $250 scholarship.

During the weigh-in awards ceremony, three $500 scholarships from BassingBob.com and a $300 scholarship from Anglers in Action were given away as draw prizes to contestants who fell short of the Top 10.

The tournament was monitored by the Missouri State High School Activities Association since bass fishing is an emerging activity for Missouri high schools.

Information on how to start a high school fishing club is available at www.mshsaa.org, www.missourihighschoolanglers.org and www.bassslammertackle.com.

Republic High School Wins Missouri Bass Championship

Republic High School wins Missouri Bass Championship

By John Neporadny Jr.

Branson, Mo.— Missouri high school anglers made history by competing in the Bass Pro Shops Open Championship of High School Fishing June 7-8 at Table Rock Lake.

The Republic High School team won the first Bass Pro Shops Open Championship of High School Fishing June 7-8, 2014 at Table Rock Lake.

The Republic High School team won the first Bass Pro Shops Open Championship of High School Fishing June 7-8, 2014 at Table Rock Lake.

The event was the first tournament ever held for high school teams signed up with the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) bass fishing program. The tournament drew 103 student anglers from 12 high schools that were paired up with volunteer boat captains each day.

Republic won the tournament with 47 points and collected the top prize of $5,000 in scholarship money. A tiebreaker was used to determine second and third place since both Ozark and Branson finished with 31 points. Ozark broke the tie since one of its two-man teams had the heaviest single-day weight and claimed the second-place prize of $3,000 in scholarship money. Branson settled for third place and won $2,000 in scholarship money.

Each two-man team fished for points for their schools based on the team’s total weight each day. The top 15 finishers of the two-man teams each day were awarded points for their schools to determine the overall school champion.
The tournament also awarded trophies to the top 3 finishers in the team competition. Cody Huff and Colten Levan of Ava High School earned the first-place trophy with a two-day weight of 22.54 pounds. Brandon Durr and Colton Mease of Republic took second with 22.10 and Dillon Statler and Nick Snelson of Reeds Spring High placed third with 21.59. The Big Bass plaque was presented to Ozark High’s Cameron Smith and Austin Thrap who weighed in a 5.48-pound largemouth bass.

Some of the student anglers had tournament experience but this was the first time they had fished in a high school event. “It is a great program,” said Cody Huff of Ava High. “It is just a lot of fun to get everybody out and let the high school kids fish. It is nice to be able to represent our hometown like this.”

His Ava High School teammate Colten Levan also had fun fishing for his school. “I absolutely love it,” he said.
Republic High anglers Brandon Durr and Hunter Gill have competed in various adult circuits and relished the chance to fish in this event. “This is a little different because everybody is our age and we are fishing as several teams for our school,” Durr said. “All in all I liked it and it was a lot of fun.”

“This was really fun fishing with same-age kids and we had a lot of boats,” Gill said. “I just liked it because it was all kids my age so I could actually see where I was in tournaments for my age group.”

Adult volunteers drove the 57 boats used to take the students fishing each day. One of the boat captains, Russ McBurney, has spent the last three months taking the Hillcrest High School anglers to various lakes and teaching them how to run a trolling motor, net fish and tie knots. “We just make time to spend with the kids,” McBurney said. “They are the next generation so we’ve got to get them focused on what the future is going to be. It was just a wonderful time to be with them.”

A large crowd of family and friends flocked to the weigh-in to see the students with their catches. “I think it is amazing,” Romona Scoggins said about the high school bass fishing program. “My son (Tre) has enjoyed it. In the last three months he has gone from not knowing anything about fishing to knowing quite a bit. He just got a truck and now he wants a boat. This is really an awesome thing for the young kids to get involved in a new sport.”

The tournament was a proud moment for Republic High School Coach Jim Huson, who organized the event and was instrumental in starting the MSHSAA bass fishing program. “My heart swells when I see all these kids out here from these different schools,” Huson said. “This is a great start for us that we have had as a vision since 2008. Ultimately I don’t know how it could have been more successful for us for our first year. “

Central Pro-Am Association handled the tournament registration and conducted the daily takeoffs and weigh-ins. This event was also special to the tournament’s emcee, Mike Webb, Central Pro-Am president, who has been running tournaments for 20 years. “None of them are as important to my wife and me as this one just because of the kids being involved. I think this will double in size by next year. This is the future of the sport and I see these people are going to be boaters one of these days and they are going to turn around and do the same thing we are doing now to hopefully keep this ball rolling.”

The Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau also sponsored the high school tournament. “We see the event as a great opportunity to support the students and the program,” said Terra Alphonso, assistant director of sports and convention sales for the chamber. “The (tournament) has been well organized. I am impressed with the care for the fish and the safety of the participants.”

Photo Gallery

For all of the results of the high school championship, go to www.webboutdoors.com/mo-high-school-championship.

To contact John Neporadny Jr. call 573/365-4296 or visit his website at JNOutdoors.com