The Day We Kind of, Sort of Won the Arkansas High School Bassmaster Classic and Anglers of the Year
By Asa Chism
The 2018 Arkansas High School Bassmaster Classic was a two-day tournament on Lake Ouachita. My partner Trace and I were in middle school, so we fished in the junior division. This was our first year to fish in tournaments. Nothing too incredible had happened the first day of the tournament. We were in third place for the first day with 8.60 pounds (2 pounds behind first place), so we had a little catching up to do the next day. The second day was the interesting day of the tournament.
For the second competition day I woke up to hearing my boat captain yell, “It’s past time for take-off!” I instantly woke up and started throwing on clothes. It turns out that our alarm didn’t go off. We were in a motel a few miles from the lake and we rushed there immediately. When we got there, we got our paint stick with our boat number on it and went to our favorite cove. We didn’t start fishing until two hours after everyone else.
When we got to the cove, I started fishing a jig while my partner fished a fluke. I fished the jig for 30 minutes and when the sun came out, I switched to a watermelon red seed Senko. Shortly after switching I caught my personal best bass (about a 4-pounder) on the Senko. Shortly after I caught the 4-pounder, I caught a 3-pounder that was my second biggest bass for the season. I fished that bait the rest of the day and I caught six or seven keepers. My partner caught a few on the same bait too. We ended up culling a few times which was the first time we had ever done that.
At 1:45 pm we figured that we had done our damage and had caught all we were probably going to get. If we had extra time before weigh-in, we would fish a few spots near the boat ramp since we had a 2:30 weigh-in. We tried to start up our boat to leave but the motor didn’t work. We called the tournament director but unfortunately, he couldn’t get anyone to come and get us, so we floated around for 45 minutes.
Around 2:30, we got a phone call from the tournament director that someone was coming to get us. We put our fish in our bag and we were ready for him to get to us. He arrived and my partner and I got in his boat leaving our boat captain in ours at 2:36. The guy that got us had borrowed his nephew’s boat to get us.
We got to the weigh in at 2:41, 11 minutes late. It was a 5-minute boat ride from our boat. We got up on stage and weighed our fish. Our weight for Day 2 was 11.70 pounds, which was enough for us to win but they took away 11 pounds for being 11 minutes late. We would have won the Classic as well as Anglers of the Year, so we were very disappointed.
Even though Trace and I didn’t win, we still had some accomplishments: 1) I had my best day of fishing in a tournament; 2) my team had the most weight we’ve ever had; 3) in comparison to the other teams, we had the most weight in the tournament; 4) I caught my personal best bass of the season; and 5) I caught my second personal best bass of the season. We would have won if our boat motor hadn’t broken down. So, we kind of, sort of won the Arkansas High School Bassmaster Classic and Anglers of the Year, but technically we didn’t. Sometimes fishing is tough, but this time it wasn’t the actual fishing that was tough.