Georgia's Richards and Goforth spring from seventh place into the lead at Bassmaster High School Championship on Lake Hartwell

A total of 481 teams entered the 2023 Strike King Bassmaster High School Championship presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors on Lake Hartwell, and now 12 remain to fish for a national title.

Wyatt Richards and Colby Goforth of Georgia’s Pickens County High School lead the pack with a two-day total of six bass weighing 23 pounds, 1 ounce. They’ll try to finish the job Saturday when the remaining teams compete for a share of $22,950 in scholarships, including $5,000 to be split by the eventual winning duo.

Richards and Goforth climbed to the top of the leaderboard Friday with a 12-pound limit of three bass. That followed the 11-1 bag they weighed on Day 1, allowing them to vault from seventh place into the lead.

The incoming high school seniors said Hartwell fishes much like Georgia’s Lake Lanier, their home waters, and that’s eased their minds so far during two long, hot days. The 16-year-olds had more than 30 bites between them on Friday, which allowed them to upgrade throughout the morning until their catch slowed about 1 p.m.

“We have a good offshore bite going,” Richards said. “There are a lot of little spotted bass on the brushpiles, but you really have to focus on catching the largemouths out there to win these tournaments. We just grinded out there to find the best quality largemouth we could.”

Goforth said jerkbaits have produced their best bites so far.

“We’re seeing them (on the electronics), and catching them anywhere from 20 to 40 feet,” he said. “It’s about a half-mile spot we’re running.”

“They’re on those herring out there all day long,” Richards added. “If you can catch them schooling, it’s more power to you. But you can find singles too. It’s just a matter of getting them to bite in this heat.”

The local heat index climbed over 100 degrees again Friday and it is expected to do so for the third-straight day Saturday. Richards and Goforth said they too will repeat their pattern on Day 3, trying to capture more of the good fortune that put them in the pole position.

“It’s worked for two days,” Richards said. “I don’t see a reason to stray from it.”

Ty Trentham and Chase McCarter, of Sevier County (Tenn.) High School, are just behind the leaders with 22-6. The 6-15 kicker they caught Thursday helped them into ninth place on Day 1 and their 11-12 limit a day later moved them into second, only ounces out of the lead.

“That big fish we caught late yesterday really kind of put us on track,” McCarter said. “We’ve got something figured out.”

That, of course, makes it easier when choosing a game plan for the final day.

“We missed some bites today that would have made a difference,” Trentham said. “If we can get those bites tomorrow, it’ll be something else. We’ve seen some big fish.”

Trentham and McCarter maintain their lead for the $200 Big Bass Award, courtesy of that 6-15 largemouth. Day 1 leaders Kasey Ferguson and Jakari Thomas of Virginia still have the Big Bag of the Tournament with the 12-7 limit they weighed Thursday. The team with the biggest bag in the three-day derby will split a $2,000 scholarship.

Rounding out the Top 12 teams competing on Saturday are third, South Carolina’s Bryson Gurley and Ethan Evatt, 21-9; fourth, Alabama’s Avery Padgett and Ethan Young, 21-6; fifth, South Carolina’s Mitchell Robinson and Cody Abbott, 20-14; sixth, Illinois’ Chase and Carter Logue, 20-1; seventh, Florida’s Bryce Balentine and Bryce Dimauro, 18-14; eighth, Texas’ Jacob Longlois and Slade Nunnally, 18-14; ninth, Ferguson and Thomas, 18-10; 10th, Florida’s Dylan Quilatan and Tommy Rust, 18-2; 11th, Tennessee’s Presley Lannom and Trevor Sanford, 17-15; and 12th, Arkansas’ Cole Martin and Josh Bowen, 17-13.

This is the 10th year B.A.S.S. has held a national championship tournament, and the second consecutive year it’s been at Lake Hartwell.

The final day will begin with a 6:20 a.m. ET takeoff from Green Pond Landing and Event Center. The drive-through weigh-in is scheduled to begin at 2:20 p.m. at the same location. Catch all the action on

The tournament is being hosted by Visit Anderson.