Kentucky’s Coleman and Alfrey Take World Finals Title at Hartwell

There were a record 437 teams, 1,311 official participants including each team’s 2 high school anglers and their boat captains participating in the 15th Annual High School Fishing World Finals and National Championship at Lake Hartwell during the week-long event in Anderson, South Carolina to test their skills.  Different weather patterns and fish movements challenged these anglers each and every day.  To better support fish care and conservation, and the keep the large youth events competitive, The Bass Federation has for years requires a 3 fish limit on all its summer-time national youth events to better support fish care and conservation and to keep the event, which features anglers from not just across North America, but from around the world competitive throughout the 4-day event.

Wednesday’s first competition day brought clear skies and a good bit of wind with it along with the heat.  When day 1 was over Mason Carden and Morgan Carden were leading the World Finals with an impressive 12-08 pound sack of green fish.  Lake Hartwell proved again it was a top fishing destination and the fish bit well on the first day as 398 teams came to the scales that afternoon.  Thursday the weather went to cloudy conditions, more muggy and hardly any wind.  This seemed to slow down the anglers just a little bit, as many of them said their fish were biting better when the wind was blowing.  As we entered Thursday, the weights were really close together with numerous ties due to the unique format of this event all teams vie for Finals on Saturday right up until the last cut is made.  Thursday’s weights were still in the high eight pound and mid-nine-pound range with a few teams bringing in double digits.

Thursday’s day 2 is a what we call “cut day” after two full days of fishing after Thursday weigh-in the 437 boat field is cut into 3 groups. While everyone who attends is in the World Finals pool fishing for the bulk of the scholarships and prizes, those teams who also qualified for the National Championship segment, their daily weights are tracked separately as well and the only the top 10 teams from the National Championship qualified pool on day 2 advance to the National Championship day 3 finals, the rest of the National Championship group stay in the World Finals pool of anglers for day 3.

Day 3 is “Judgement Day”  built like any other HS program as a double elimination round.

On day 3 (Friday) anglers are in one of 3 groups. The top 10 in the national championship who automatically advance to Saturdays day WORLD FINALS.  Then there is the world semi- finals group.  The great field “leveler”  group it contains only the top 2 teams from each state or country represented for Friday’s competition.  All the remaining anglers are in the “Second Chance” round on Friday’s day 3 and the three weigh in groups are set.  Both of the last two groups (world semi-finals and second chance round) have their weights zeroed and everybody started out the same on Friday morning just like a double elimination basketball/baseball event or most other high school sports tournaments.

When the scales closed Friday evening, the ten National Championship finalists were all qualified to be the first ten teams that mad the World Finals on Saturday.   The top 10 from the World Semi-Finalists (top 2 from each state group) also advance to Saturday’s WORLD FINALS. Leading the semi-fianls group Brody Kellum and Carson Thompson of Georgia had 11-12 pounds.  It took 8-13 to make the top 10 cut for the Semi-Final group.  Then we take the rest of the semi finalists and all the second chance round weights and merge them into one standings list by day 3 weight and take the top 10 from there no matter which group they come from. Some years they all come from one list some the other most years it is a mix. For this event nine(9) of those were from the Second Chance round and only one from the Semi-Finals group.  That give us 30 of our 31 teams for Saturdays world finals.

After day 3 TBF hosts a pizza party and Favorite fishing presents a custom rod to all graduation seniors as it is also senior night, at the conclusion of the party we hold a “Lucky Dog” drawing where we draw out of a hat one team to get back into the final day of the world finals on Saturday setting the field at 31 teams.

The Iowa team of Ethan and Ty Timmerman was the Lucky Dog drawing winners this year that put them back into the Saturday Finals.  Now our World Finals Championship was set and all teams were once again set back to zero weight for Saturday’ WORLD FINALS.

All but one team weighed fish on Saturday and the weights were once again very close, with only two ounces separating the winners and second place.  The Kentucky team of Elijah Coleman and Bryce Alfrey set 13.00 pounds on the scale and held the lead during most of the weigh in.

Elijah Coleman and Bryce Alfrey

But as the last team came to the stage, both teams knew it was going to be close.  The Louisiana team of Bennett Fontenot and Braxon Speyrer brought a hefty sack of bass to the scales and when the weight locked, they came up two ounces short, at 12-14.  Bryson Dover and Angler Cornejo who finished second on Friday at the National Championship, finished third Saturday with another good bag of 11-14 pounds.  Rounding out the Top five were the teams of Owen Wiggens and Bill Gaines in fourth with 10-13 and Degan Dougherty and Wyatt Massey in fifth with 9-11 pounds.

Many of the winning teams were offered multiple scholarship opportunities to help further their education.   In total over 3 million dollars in scholarships was offered to teams who attended.

The Top ten teams even got to pick a pair of prizes from the Prize stage.  Items included, TV’s, Computers, kayaks, earbuds, mini-fridges along with other great prizes.  Garmin, Aqua View Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s proved significant boat captains prizes to reward them for their commitment to youth fishing.


Most of these teams reported catching their fish on Flukes, Whopper Plopper’s, Spinnerbaits and Drop Shots.  The shallow fish were in 3-5 feet of eater while several of the spotted bass were in 30-50 feet of water and out on the end of long points and channel swings.

We had a great week in Anderson South Carolina.  look for a press release soon on the next 3 years rotation including the 16th, 17th, and 18th annual editions and location for the High School Fishing WORLD Finals and National Championship.