Four anglers represented Lenoir City High School on the national stage over the weekend in the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster BASS High School Nation championship on Kentucky Lake.
The duos of Dalton Bailey/Hayden Stockett and Logan Johnson/Brent Key came up short in their efforts, but finished in the top 175 of 600 anglers.
“The guys fished hard and put in hours of practice, but things didn’t go well,” Allen Woods, Bass Club president, said. “Kentucky Lake this time of year is very hard. I am extremely proud of the guys for battling hard and not giving up. There were 49 qualified teams from Tennessee. These guys worked hard all year and to get there is a huge accomplishment.”
Kentucky Lake has suffered from a large population of Asian carp this year, which has limited the amount of bass being caught.
“That lake fishes very, very tough,” Woods said. “It’s loaded with them and right now, they’ve worked on some different programs to eradicate the Asian carp that are on it. Just those Asian carp being there and the water’s just so hot ... the surface temperature’s close to 90, so some fish are deep and some fish are shallow. You’ve got to deviate where you want to go, and it’s a big, big lake, too.”
Key and Johnson placed 139th overall, while Bailey and Stockett came in 172nd.
“The first day of the tournament, Brent had to go to the emergency room because he had a little accident with some treble hooks,” Woods said. “They got that solved, and then he went back on the water to fish. The first day, Hayden and Dalton, they had boat trouble and brought about two fish in.”
“I mean, it wasn’t nothing too major,” Stockett added. “We could still fish, it’s just we couldn’t run the boat as hard to where we wanted to go.”
Fortunately, Bailey and Stockett received some help from another boater and drastically improved their Friday performance. But it was too late for a major comeback.
“I felt like the second day, we did a lot better,” Stockett said. “We caught a lot of keepers that day, but I caught a lot of short fish under 15 (inches). They were probably about 3 pounds. I mean, the fish were there, it was just they weren’t long enough. I wanted to give a big thanks to Jeff Baites about borrowing his boat and fishing the next day.”
Despite falling short of a national crown, Woods is pleased with the team’s overall success and is excited to get started this fall.
“We had some good top-10 finishes in there,” he said. “Hayden and Dalton actually won one of the Southeast tournaments. Consistency is better than a win here and a win there. If you can consistently finish ... if you can have a top 10 or top 20, that will get you where you want to be. We’re going to make some noise this year.”