Benton High’s Richardson And McKinney Win Bassmaster High School Fishing Tournament

Dailus Richardson and Trevor McKinney of Benton High School win the Costa Bassmaster High School Midwestern Open on Clinton Lake with 16 pounds, 9 ounces.

The Illinois teammates took the title in their home state by a slim 7-ounce margin over Cole Miles and Dillan White of the Southside Anglers Club. The winners used a two-pronged approach to overcome windy conditions on Clinton Lake and vault to the top of the 63-team field.

“Right now is a really tough time to catch fish on Clinton,” McKinney said. “There is a hot portion of the lake and then a cooler area, so the fish are doing so many different things. Having knowledge of this fishery really helps.”

The teammates showed their versatility by fishing out of their comfort zone and deeper than they normally like to. A key bait for the one-day tournament was a custom shaky head created by Richardson paired with a Zoom Magnum Trick Worm. McKinney also boated his fish on a Zoom 10 1/2-inch Ol' Monster Worm.

Patience was a big factor as fishing in the early morning was slow, which the pair blamed on a dozen other teams fishing near their starting spot.

“We weren’t thrilled when there were a lot of boats to start the morning, but we figured most would leave after an hour so,” McKinney said. “After most left, we were able to hit the key spot we wanted. We caught a 3-pounder, and Dailus boated the 5-5 that anchored our weight.”

Weather conditions were a challenge, with partly cloudy skies and sustained winds in the teens and gusts up to 20 mph. Those windy conditions helped keep the pressure of tournament anglers from effecting Richardson and McKinney’s area because it was hard to stay on the main lake all day.

At the halfway point in their day, they only had three keeper bass and knew they needed to change their strategy. The Benton anglers moved to shallower water, where they caught two more bass and filled their limit.

“We caught a couple (of bigger) fish shallow in practice, so we had confidence to do that today,” Richardson said. “After fishing shallow we went deep to finish the day, and we caught another 5-pounder before we came in.”

The Benton High School seniors were recently named to the prestigious Bassmaster High School All-American Fishing Team. They will attend this week’s GEICO Bassmaster BASSFest presented by Choctaw Casino Resort on Lake Texoma, Oklahoma, where they will fish with Elite Series pros in their own competition. The teammates have committed to fish for McKendree University on scholarship. In addition to the trophies for winning the Midwestern Open, they each received $2,500 per year in additional scholarship funds from McKendree University.

Dayten Schureman and Chance Fears of Rogers High School Bass Club took home the Big Bass Award for their 5-10 largemouth.

The Top 6 teams from the Midwestern Open punched their ticket to the Costa Bassmaster High School Championship later this summer on Kentucky Lake pending any double qualifications that may arise.