On Saturday, the Decatur Heritage Christian Academy (DHCA) Fishing Eagles scored another first by student anglers Mitchell Gowen and Brianna Tucker, assisted by boat captain Norman Brown, taking 1st place team honors in the inaugural B.A.S.S. High School Invitational Tournament sponsored by the Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau held on Wheeler Lake out of the famous Ingalls Harbor. Mitchell and Brianna out-fished 65 other high school teams to win the Invitational by bringing in 16 pounds, 15 ounces of largemouth bass. Three student angler teams from DHCA was entered in the event.
The tournament weigh-in was streamed live on www.bassmaster.com . Check out the Web site for an archived copy of the live-stream video of the weigh-in, photos of the event registration (including a fine meal for the high school anglers and attendees furnished by CVB in our first class pavilion), the morning launch, on-water photos, and a blog by the anglers. A number of Internet Fishing Web sites have picked up this important high school angler tournament with posting of articles to their Web sites.
While this was the first event of its kind to be staged by the International Bass Anglers Sportsman Society for high school student anglers, it was not the first competitive student angler bass fishing event for Mitchell and Brianna who were Charter Members of the DHCA Fishing Eagles Chapter Club of the Alabama Student Angler Bass Fishing Association (ASABFA). The Fishing Eagles, coached by Blake Gowen, Norman Brown, and others organized ASABFA in 2010 and the DHCA Fishing Eagles were crowned the 2010 Alabama Student Angler State Champions in the inaugural year of the new sports organization. ASABFA was recognized by the Alabama State Legislature as the OFFICIAL student angler bass fishing organization in the state.
While B.A.S.S. has been involved in the sport of bass fishing at the grassroots level through the B.A.S.S. Nation, the national collegiate tournament series, and is the major leader in professional bass fishing through the Elite Series of tournaments and the Annual Bassmaster Classic, the organization just began the development of the high school series in 2013 with the 2013 B.A.S.S. High School Invitational Tournament being the first such professionally staged tournament to be held. Mitchell and Brianna will go down in history as the first high school anglers to win a sanctioned B.A.S.S. high school bass fishing event. The DHCA Fishing Eagles are now a qualified sanctioned high school Chapter Club of B.A.S.S.
"I just want to thank God for giving us the opportunity to fish," said Brianna "and I also want to thank our Boat Captain Norman Brown.
Norman said that Mitchell and Brianna wanted to go to their "honey hole" where they had previously taken heavy bags of bass, but only had one bite by 9:00 am. He said the team stayed focused and they then ran up river to an alternate location and when TVA stared releasing water through Guntersville dam increasing the river current, the bass turned on all at once.
Brianna said she worked the front deck of Norman’s bass boat slinging a DD22 crankbait while Mitchell worked a Texas rigged 12 inch worm on the bottom working off a ledge into deeper water. Brown said, "When the current turned on, the Brianna and Mitchell started putting bass in the livewell. Norman said, "They probably caught 10 bass with the larges weighing 4.5 lbs and the smallest about 2.75 – 3.0 lbs."
Finding a consistent, quality bite helped DHCA overcome some of the larger bass weighed in Saturday, including the 5 lb. 3 oz. Carhartt Big Bass caught by Jake Turnbloom and JT Russsell of Briarwood Christian. While a number of the boats caught 4 bass, coming with a 5 quality bass limit was difficult on Saturday. Still, the 16 lb. – 15 oz. bag weight by Brianna and Mitchell is comparable to many adult and pro tournaments.
Mitchell and Brianna will join (9) other B.A.S.S. high school qualified teams from across the nation in competing at the 2014 B.A.S.S. HIGH SCHOOL CLASSIC EXPOSITION TOURNAMENT to be held in conjunction with the Bassmaster Classic out of Birmingham on February 21-23, 2013. For their win, B.A.S.S. has awarded Brianna, Mitchell, and Norman exclusive backstage privileges for the entire 2014 Bassmaster Classic in February.
Joining Tucker and Gowen in the 2014 B.A.S.S. High School Classic Exhibition are runners-up Jarrett Martin and Billy Powers of Gallia Academy High School; third-place finishers Tanner Jones and Clay Teague of Tuscaloosa County High School; fourth-place finishers Beau Ashcraft and Shawn Zellers of Wabash Valley Bassmasters; fifth-place anglers John Garrett and Peyton Lyons of Obion County Student Anglers; sixth-place finishers Ryan Winchester and Justin Burris of Clinton High School; seventh-place finishers Jake Lee and Jacob Mashburn of Clinton High School; and eight-place finishers Ben Stone and Christopher Bensel of Dixie High School. High school anglers from (9) states participated in the tournament.
The remaining 2-angler teams rounding out the (10) teams competing at the 2014 B.A.S.S. High School Exposition Tournament (weigh-in on the Bassmaster Classic Stage) is the top two student angler qualifiers from the Alabama Games Fishing Tournament previously staged out of Montgomery and the top team from the 2013 Alabama B.A.S.S. Nation High School State Championship Tournament.
HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT ANGLER BASS FISHING IS TURNING INTO A MAJOR YOUTH SPORT!