(Jul 23, 2015 - Paris, TN.)
Alex Heintze and Justin Watts claim an obscure technique for their nearly 10-pound lead going into the championship round of the Costa Bassmaster High School National Championship presented by TNT Fireworks.
What they are doing on Kentucky Lake will surprise local experts and touring pros alike. With one day remaining, the details are incomplete and yet to come.
After two days of fishing, the Livingston Parish Bassmasters team has a total weight of 43 pounds, 14 ounces. The score is anchored by Thursday’s catch of 23-4 that ranks as heaviest of the tournament. In second place with 34-7 are Cole Moore and Casey Haymon of Anacoco High School in Port Arthur, La.
Heintze hinted about what they are not doing, which goes against the textbook summertime tactic for which the lake is known.
“Kentucky Lake is the No. 1 ledge fishing lake in the nation,” said Heintze, a 16-year-old junior from Baton Rouge. “That’s what just about everyone else is doing this week.”
Fishing the lake’s signature main-river channel dropoffs is not remotely part of their strategy. Take a cue from their south Louisiana roots.
“We don’t fish ledges back home because they don’t exist,” added Watts, 15, a sophomore from Baton Rouge. “We only fish in shallow water, and that’s what is working for us here, too.”
You’d never believe that after hearing the team has 10 areas where they fish, which is how the summertime rotation of ledge fishing works. The team has never explored the ledges, only making casual stops after filling limits of five bass.
“We had our limit today and yesterday by 9:30 a.m.,” Heintze admitted. “We haven’t even been to any of the other areas.”
The tactic of sticking to what works at home is paying off for another top team from Louisiana. Cade Fortenberry and Braden Blanchard of St. Amant High School, also near Baton Rouge, are in third place with 34-1.
The team caught a five-bass limit by noon, based on the strength of fishing shallow water.
“The heavy rain overnight made our water dirty, but it should improve by Saturday,” Blanchard said. “What will help is sunshine.”
They will have plenty of that on Saturday. The forecast calls for sunny skies with a high of 91 degrees.
Friday the Top 10 teams have the day off. Teams ranked 11th through 50th places will fish at Carroll County Thousand Acre Recreational Lake. The two highest finishing teams from Friday will join the Top 10 for the final day Saturday on Kentucky Lake.
The championship is the culmination of seasonal qualifying events. A record of 134 teams representing 37 states and Ontario are competing in the High School National Championship.
Teams are competing for $75,000 in scholarships and prizes. Schools participating in the B.A.S.S. Nation High School program were eligible to qualify two-angler teams for the championship. Teams also qualified through B.A.S.S. regional events and sanctioned affiliate tournament trails.
High school championship week also includes the B.A.S.S. Youth Nation Junior Championship. Friday and Saturday, the 26 teams will compete on Carroll County Thousand Acre Recreational Lake.
The weigh-in begins at 2:30 p.m. Friday in downtown Huntingdon, Tenn. The main campus of Bethel University hosts the final championship weigh-in on Saturday.
Official hosts are Paris-Henry County, Carroll County, Northwest Tennessee Tourism and Bethel University.
2015 Bassmaster High School Title Sponsor: Costa
2015 Bassmaster High School Presenting Sponsor: TNT Fireworks
2015 Bassmaster High School Premier Sponsors: Toyota, ABU Garcia, Berkley, Carhartt, GoPro, Huk Performance Fishing, Triton Boats, Yamaha
B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 500,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines, Bassmaster website, television show , social media programs and events. For more than 45 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.
The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series presented by Allstate, Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation events, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Costa Bassmaster High School Series, Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro.