Sevier County Takes Lead In Bassmaster High School National Championship On Lake Hartwell

Ty Trentham and Chase McCarter recovered from a slow start to catch 17 pounds, 15 ounces to take the lead on Day 1 of the Abu Garcia Bassmaster High School National Championship presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors on Lake Hartwell.

The Sevier County High School juniors hold a 2-ounce lead on Livingston Parish High School anglers Destin Morales and Samuel Cobb Jr.

“It was consistent all day,” Trentham said. “They bit a little better in the morning, but it was a grind really. We didn’t fish the cleanest. We missed a few and lost a few. We were kind of down at first, but after we caught a few good ones it got us up.”

While this is their first tournament at Lake Hartwell, the east Tennessee natives said the diverse fisheries in their home region prepared them well.

“Tennessee has a lot of different types of lakes,” McCarter said. “You have the Tennessee River, you have highland reservoirs, smallmouth, spotted bass — all of it.”

While Lake Hartwell has become known as a great spotted bass fishery, the Tennessee anglers filled their limit with all largemouth. The morning got off to a frustrating start, but Trentham and McCarter completed their limit around lunchtime before making several key culls.

During practice, the duo got bites but weren’t exactly sure what they had in their areas before the tournament started. They landed the majority of their bag in one main stretch while a different section produced a key big bite.

They rotated through several baits, and McCarter acknowledged the bite they have going is a “home run” type of pattern.

“You've got to hope for the best,” he said. “We just tried to get another bite. We would go back through our area and we might leave if we think it (isn’t working). We were just experimenting in one of the areas where we caught a big one, and we may have to experiment more tomorrow. You can’t make a mistake when we are getting as many bites as we are getting.”

As Louisiana River rats, Morales and Cobb Jr. weren’t sure what to expect. That didn’t stop them from catching 17-13 on Day 1 and landing a 7-8 behemoth largemouth to take the lead for Big Bass of the Tournament.

“We didn’t expect there to be any fish that big in here,” Cobb Jr. said. “Much less me catching it. I was really excited, and I was shaking for a while afterward.”

“I was like a kid in the candy shop,” Morales added. “It jumped and it looked like a whole dolphin coming out of the water.”

Morales and Cobb Jr. brought in all largemouth, but they reported catching several spotted bass as well. Morales described their strategy as “junk fishing,” and they have a milk run of about 12 to 15 areas.

Several different types of cover have produced for them.

“First thing this morning it was slow, and then toward the middle of the day it got better. It’s been like that all week,” Morales said. “I didn’t think we were going to do this well today. But then Samuel hooked that kicker and that helped us out a lot.”

Illinois anglers Hunter and Blake Beckmann from Breese Central High School landed in third with 16-3, all largemouth. After losing a big fish in the morning, they filled their limit around midmorning and anchored their bag with a 5-10 largemouth.

They used a rotation of baits, but they are using one specific technique they use on their home fishery of Lake Carlyle to get familiar with Lake Hartwell.

“Today went better than we expected,” Blake said. “Tuesday, we had roughly 12 pounds, and Wednesday we had about 9 pounds. Today we were blown (away). We didn’t think we had this much weight.”

The full field will launch from Green Pond Landing and Event Center at 6:20 a.m. ET on Day 2 and return for weigh-in beginning at 2:20 p.m. The Top 12 teams after Friday’s weigh-in will advance to Championship Saturday.

The tournament is being hosted by Visit Anderson.