The Lenoir City High School Bass Club had a big day on the water Saturday as five teams finished in the top 25 in the Southeast Tennessee B.A.S.S. Nation High School Trail tournament on Chickamauga Lake.
“Chickamauga is a hotbed of activity right now,” Allen Woods, LCHS Bass Club coach, said. “They had the MLS Series on the lake and they had another tournament out of Harrison Bay, so the lake was a little bit crowded, but they found the right fish. I’m tickled for all our teams. We had 10 teams fish that tournament.”
Dalton Bailey and Hayden Stockett have performed well all year for the Panthers, and the duo picked up its first win of the season after netting a 16.01-pound bag.
They also won the Big Fish Award after catching a 7.57-pound bass.
“We haven’t placed first in any other tournament, so that was pretty exciting to place first,” Stockett said. “Last year’s tournament, I caught the big fish last year down there, so we ended up going back to the cove. They were on spawn and on the bed, so we stayed in that cove all day long. That’s where we caught our big fish and our keepers.”
Bailey has been fishing for five years and was finally rewarded with his career-best finish.
“We’ve been trying to win one since we’ve started out fishing,” Bailey said. “It’s been about three years of high school and five years total for me. At first, we didn’t think we were going to do so great because we didn’t get to pre-fish or anything before the tournament. We found the big fish and we spent an hour trying to catch it. We fish down there pretty often, but we don’t always do so well down there. It’s a hard lake to fish from.”
Other top finishes were Hunter Canova and John Thompson, who placed 12th; Thomas Brown and Zane O’Domirok, who placed 15th; Brandon Sales and Dale Scarbrough, who placed 18th; and Shelby Lampkin and Zack Spears, who placed 21st.
“Lenoir City was well represented,” Woods said. “We had all but three teams that weighed fish, so that’s a pretty good deal. They’re working hard and getting things done. They fished good. Shelby and Zack are seniors and they did well. Hunter and John are freshmen and we’ve got a few teams in the middle, so it’s pretty cool to see those kids get out there and work as hard as they do. I try to instill that the more they practice, the more they learn.”
Several members of the team will look to qualify for state this weekend when they travel to Douglas Lake to compete in the Bass Pro Shops High School Tournament Series Classic.
Bailey and Stockett are second in the points standing and will also be looking to qualify for the national championship in the summer.
“A lot of practice fishing goes into it,” Stockett said. “It’s a three-fish limit. Dalton and I have been best friends since first grade, so we work together pretty good.”
“We’re going up that Friday to pre-fish for it, so I’m hoping we can find some pretty good spots up there,” Bailey added. “Hopefully, we can do it because they’ll put us up there and we’ll finish in second place, but we could make first depending on how things happen.”