One thing is for sure, with 120 teams in the Arkansas High School State Championship tournament, you were going to need to catch some quality fish if you expected to advance onto the next level. From the 120 boat field at Lake Dardanelle, the top 10% of the Arkansas High School teams would advance to the Southern Conference Final in October. As it turned out it would take just one ounce shy of 11 pounds to make the top 12 cut.
CJ Brustrom & partner William Carpenter of Cedar Ridge High School came out on top as the overall winners with a nice limit of bass weighing 16.12 pounds. Their first place weight was anchored by the biggest bass of the tournament, a big 5.40 pound largemouth, earning them 2 Lew’s Spinning Reels. Most of the anglers reported fishing to be tough as they were on the water the day after the BFL was on Dardanelle at the same location. However, it still took good weights to finish near the top of the leader board.
Second place was taken by Zach Ingram & Chase Galloway from Heber Springs High School with 15.01 pounds. Finishing third and also taking the highest finishing SAF Team honor was the team of Colton Day & Jake White of River Valley High School. Their weight was 14.01 pounds. Fourth place belonged to Layton Lovell & Jordan Bumpous from Cedar Ridge High School with 13.15 pounds. Rounding out the top five was Nick Kuras & Fisher Thomas with 13.01 pounds. When asked about how they caught their fish, most of the top teams were pretty much doing the same thing. They were having to use a variety of baits to catch a limit of fish, and they were having to weed through a lot of little fish in order to find the keeper fish. Some of the most popular baits were a white spinnerbait, a jig, a plastic worm, a buzzbait, a topwater frog and a crankbait. Most anglers were barely able to fill the 5 bass limit as only a few anglers reported catching more than five keeper fish.
The remaining qualifiers for the Southern Conference Final were as follows: six place was Tyler Dobbs & Greywolf Burch from the Highland Rebels with 12-15 pounds, seventh place went to Phillip Gottsponer & Cole Bottoms from the Perryville Mustangs with 12.11 pounds, eighth place was Jacob English & Chris Hildreth Jr from North Pulaski High School with 12.03 pounds, ninth place was the team of Sawyer Floyd & Brandon Paladino from the Vilonia Eagles with 11.05 pounds, tenth place belonged to Chase Myers & Carl Swede from Arkansas SAF with 11.03 pounds, eleventh place was Jonathan Dotson & Logan Kreamers from River Valley High School with 11.01 pounds and the final qualifying spot, in twelfth place went to Konnor McKay & Trey Slater from the WHS Waterdogs with 10.15 pounds. All in all, it was a great day for high school fishing as 22 teams weighed in a five fish limit and 78 of the 120 teams weighed in at least one fish.