Rising Rhea County High School freshmen and anglers Andon Goins and Blake Wheat took home first place honors at the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Wild Card tournament in Kentucky.
The tournament was held on Lake Cumberland, and Goins and Wheat won the event by nearly four pounds, catching a total of 18-pounds, 3-ounces.
Officials for Bassmaster said that the angler team was able to qualify for the event because of rules that allow incoming freshmen to compete during the summer before they start high school.
“We caught them in 50 to 70 feet of water,” Wheat told Bassmaster.com. “In the mornings, bass were active — they were blowing up — and then throughout the day we keyed in on the spoon and started catching them suspended.”
The anglers were able to work the deep water, and said that most of their bites were from bass settled about six feet below the surface.
“The lake was nice and deep,” Wheat said. “We were a little out of our comfort zone at first out it worked out in the end.”
Goins and Wheat also landed the big bass for the tournament, catching a 6-pound, 3-ounces bass near a dock and also in deep water.
But Goins and Wheat were not the only local anglers to place at the tournament, Ben Hester and Mason Caldwell placed 10th at the event.
Rhea County High School Eagle Angler Coach Brian Derlak said he was proud of the local angelrs and congratulated them on securing a spot in the national tournament in August.
“Lake Cumberland is an awesome lake that is extremely deep and clear. There are 72 waterfalls on the lake and it was absolutely beautiful,” Derlak said. “Practice days went very good for our teams and optimism ran high for tournament day. I’ve been doing this long enough to know to expect anything.“
Derlak said both teams qualified for nationals through this tournament and will join Tanner McClain and Garrett White, who qualified back in March at Lake Guntersville.
“It is extremely exciting to have Rhea County High School represented by three of our teams this year,” Derlak said. “We would also like to thank all of our great sponsors, Rhea County School System, boat captains, parents, family members and fans of the Rhea County Eagle Anglers.”