Local bass teams prep for state tournament

Lenoir City High School’s Hunter Proctor, left, and Colby Gatlin display their winning catch May 16 following a Tennessee BASS Nation High School Southeast Region tournament on Watts Bar Lake.

Loudon County will be well-represented Friday and Saturday as individuals from both the Lenoir City High School Bass Club and Loudon High School Bass Fishing Club will compete in the Tennessee BASS Nation High School State Championship on Chickamauga Lake.

The six duos from Lenoir City include Zane O’Domirok/John Thompson, Logan Johnson/Brandon Sales, Brodie Brown/Daniel Ridenour, Jastynn Snoblen/Mikenny Snoblen, Colby Gatlin/Hunter Proctor and Kylee Townsend/Jordan Weatherly.

“It’s super for the program because these kids have qualified to fish for this tournament, and I’m pleased with the way things have gone,” Allen Woods, LCHS Bass Club head coach, said. “We’re looking at possibly three teams qualifying to fish in the nationals, and that’s not in stone yet but we’re hoping. These kids get out there and they get after it every weekend. I’m pleased as punch the way these kids have fished this year given last year and what it was because we had to do this different and that different. They’ve had to overcome a lot of obstacles to get there and they fished very good this year.”

Gatlin and Proctor have qualified for the state tournament the last two years and are looking forward to another opportunity to bring home a trophy.

Both are spending the entire week on Chickamauga for practice.

“Me and Colby are actually together and down here at Chickamauga for the state championship, and we’ve been practicing the last couple of days and catching some pretty good bags,” Proctor said. “Hopefully we can keep doing that into the tournament and place well.”

“We’ve really been putting in a lot of time on the water,” Gatlin added. “I’m really hoping it pays off on the two tournament days.”

The LHS Bass Fishing Club will have four teams compete, including Brad Brown/Aiden Worley, Skylar Foxx/Colton Atchley, Sam Eubanks/Simon Hawkins and Ethan Brewster/Austin Viars.

“It’s huge for the program because this is the most we’ve ever sent to the state tournament,” Charlie Brown, LHS Bass Fishing Club head coach, said. “We had one team qualify to go to state last year but it was all the way in Pickwick Lake and we just didn’t have the funds to make it, but this year it’s in Chickamauga. We had five qualify but only four can go. It’s big for our kids to go down there and fish for a state championship. They’re all excited and gung-ho. They’ve been studying and practicing and getting fired up and getting ready for it.”

Lenoir City and Loudon have a good chance for a strong showing, but locating hot spots between deep and shallow water will be key.

Teams will also be competing for spots on the water this weekend with Major League Fishing anglers participating in a separate tournament.

“I think they’ve all got a pretty good chance because it’s a two-day event and a lot of times in a two-day event, you can go out that first day and you can catch a 20-pound bag,” Woods said. “You might catch a lot of fish on that first day and then have nothing on the second day, and that’s the thing about a two-day tournament is it shows a little more consistency on how that angler works.”