The 2018 South Carolina High School Fishing State Championship saw 60 boats on Lake Murray April 29 for the annual event. The top 10% of SAF State Championship and FLW/TBF Open events advance to the 2018 National Championship held in conjunction with the High School Fishing World Finals. The 2018 HSFWF’s and National Championship events will return to Lake Pickwick, June 26-30 and the top six teams from this event will be amongst the elite.
A cold front came through that shook up the bite and team strategies. Teams that made quick adjustments to their patterns were the ones that proved successful. The superior of which, was the North Augusta High School team of Chad Champy and Kyler McKie.
“We had a pattern from practice the day before that showed promising signs of a good day of fishing,” McKie said. “We had a cold front come through the day of the tournament that shut our pattern down. We planned on throwing topwater baits on main lake schooling points up shallow in 2-4 feet of water. Since that didn’t work out as planned, we had to experiment and try new things to get fish in the boat.”
The team headed to one of their common schooling spots and decided to go deep. A slow morning instantly turned itself around. “I tied on a 1 ounce spinnerbait and fished out deeper,” McKie explained. “I started getting a lot of bites and kept hooking up with good 3 pound fish left and right. We culled about 4 or 5 times and finally got all of the little fish out of our limit.”
“We caught our fish out on points on the main lake,” Champy added. “I slow rolled a ½ ounce spinner bait and that is how we got most of our fish. We were also able to catch a few on drop shot. The bite was slow, but we managed to get some good fish throughout the day.”
Champy and McKie took an early lead with a five bass limit weighing 15 pounds 15 ounces, and then they burned up the hot seat. “We thought we only had 13 or 14 pounds to weigh in, but we were happily surprised when we saw 15-15 go across the scale,” McKie said. “We were nervous while the other teams weighed in but we stayed in the hot seat until the scales closed and were glad to pull out the win.”
Landing second place and a ticket to the national contest, was the Stratford High School fishing team of Brandon Jones and James Clutts. Jones and Clutts had five bass limit weighing 12 pounds 13 ounces.
“What turned out to be a successful day of fishing started out slow,” Jones said. “We ran to many points and fished many sorts of lures. The most prominent bite came off a rattle trap, which we managed to catch four of our biggest fish on. Our final fish came off a Carolina Rig fishing off a rocky point. We were lucky to finish strong; it was a great experience and we hope to win it all in Alabama!”