Lenoir City angler wins national title

Bryan College juniors Bailey Fain, left, and Preston Kendrick display their haul June 11 after winning the 2020 BoatUS Collegiate Fishing Championship on Pickwick Lake. Fain is a 2017 graduate of Lenoir City High School.

A former Lenoir City High School angler represented the community well two weeks ago after clinching his second national title in two years.

Bryan College junior Bailey Fain, a 2017 LCHS graduate, and partner Preston Kendrick jumped a tight leaderboard June 11 in the 2020 BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship on Pickwick Lake to finish first with a bag of 16-plus pounds.

Fain and Cole Sands clinched the 2019 Carhartt Bassmaster College Classic in April 2019.

“I just can’t explain it. I mean just going into college fishing, I never would’ve thought we’d have the chance to even win one, but I just want to give all the honor and all the glory to the good Lord because without him, none of that would be possible,” Fain said. “It’s not us, it’s the good Lord. It just happened to work out this time. I don’t know why or how. It was just quick when they would bite.”

Fain and Kendrick got off to a shaky start during practice but fortunes changed in a flash on the first day when the duo came across a hot spot.

The anglers worked swim baits and top water baits on schooling fish and finished with 19 pounds on the first day.

“Going into the tournament, we hadn’t really found anything in practice. We found one spot where they chased a school of shad on a point, and we pulled up to it the first day of the tournament,” Fain said. “We had the majority of our weight within the first 30 minutes of the tournament in that one spot. After that, we were pretty much done both days.”

The win came as a shock to Fain after missing out on most of the spring season.

“We hadn’t fished a tournament since March, I believe, and we were just happy to go get to fish a tournament, honestly,” Fain said. “It had been so long in between, and it really felt like we forgot how to fish a tournament because it had been so long. It felt good to finally get back out and just go fishing after all the COVID-19. It just felt good to get back on the water.”

Mike Keen, Bryan College head fishing coach, praised Fain and Kendrick.

“This is huge for them and something they will never forget,” Keen said. “It’s our fishing team’s second national championship, and this is only seven years that we’ve been fishing, so that’s pretty phenomenal, too. It does a great deal for our team. The publicity it gives our school and our team, and it aids in our recruitment and in a lot of areas. It’s a big deal for us.”

Fain has been one of the program’s top anglers over the last three seasons.

“Bailey’s not a newbie in the fishing industry because Bailey has been fishing all of his life, and he’s good at it,” Keen said. “His work ethic is not only evident in his fishing life but also his school work. Anything Bailey does, he goes at it wholehearted, and that’s what makes him so successful. I just wish he was a freshman because I’d like to have him for four more years.”

Fain will continue to fish in tournaments this summer.

“We have a couple of tournament trails left, and then mainly if a team trail comes up this summer or in the fall, I’ll try to fish it,” he said. “The only thing on my agenda is working and fishing. If I’m not working, I’m fishing. That’s about all that’s on my agenda. That’s about all I do.”

Keen expects Fain to reel in at least one more national title before he graduates next May.

“When he won the national championship, he kind of messed up because we’re going to expect another one out of him,” Keen said with a laugh. “We expect big things out of him. Bailey has always been a leader, but this is his year to show real leadership to our team. The younger kids need someone they can look at and emulate. Any freshman I’ve got if I can direct them to look at Bailey Fain’s life in and out of the classroom, on and off the water, then I’m going to do that.”