Nearly one month after the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods was held on Lake Hartwell, a youthful generation of anglers launched from Green Pond Landing for a chance to compete in a championship of their own. The two anglers who exceeded that challenge were South Carolina freshmen Marshall Robinson and Mason Fulmer of Byrnes High School.
The Byrnes Rebel bass club caught five bass Saturday that weighed 17 pounds, 12 ounces to win the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Eastern Open presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. After their first game plan of targeting shallow-water, herring-related bass did not pan out, the team took to fishing for spawning bass that they found in practice.
“We marked over 20 beds in practice,” Robinson said. “The three fish that we set the hook on in practice were all under 3 pounds. Anything bigger, we made sure to save.”
Planning for the herring spawn that they thought could happen positioned them around quality bass in the lower part of Lake Hartwell, in the same area where Jordan Lee defended his Classic title.
“We took two trips during spring break and caught limits in the mid-teens,” Fulmer said. “That clued us in to the areas we needed to look, with it being a week before.”
The two employed typical bed-fishing tactics, but fooled some shallow roaming fish into biting as well.
“While one of us was fishing for the fish on the bed, the other would throw in front of the boat hoping to get one of the big cruising fish to bite,” Robinson said. “We had a couple of key fish come fishing that way.”
The key baits to their success were a Texas-rigged creature-style bait, a drop shot with a Zoom shaky head worm and a Zoom Fluke.
The Rebels were awarded first-place plaques and a $1,500 payout for their school’s fishing team, who is coached by Iris Robinson, wife of Elite Series angler and high school boat captain Marty Robinson.
Robinson and Fulmer finished 11 ounces in front of B.J. Collins and Garrett Holder of the Chatuge Anglers who finished second with 17-1. Lake Chatuge is only a few hours away, and the highland reservoir in North Georgia has some similarities to Hartwell.
“The similarities of fishing a (bait bite) in windy conditions in clear water helped a lot,” Collins said.
Though the dock talk of herring-related fish was apparent, the Chatuge Anglers took another route and focused on shad-fed fish.
“We fished down the lake and threw a Megabass jerkbait and a frog in the back of pockets,” Holder said.
Collins and Holder won second-place plaques and a $1,000 check for their fishing club.
The Big Bass award was won by the third-place team of James Gibbons and Piercen Lynch of South Florence High School. The 4-15 largemouth was worth two Abu Garcia REVO Reels in addition to the third-place prize of $750.
The Eastern Regional featured 157 teams, and the Top 16 earned a spot in the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School National Championship presented by DICK'S Sporting Goods scheduled for Kentucky Lake in August. It took 12-2 to make the cut.
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The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series, Academy Sports + Outdoors B.A.S.S. Nation presented by Magellan Outdoors, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, Bassmaster Team Championship and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.