Eagles McClain and White Earn Trip to National Championship

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Tanner McClain and Garrett White had an incredible finish to their day on Lake Guntersville on March 30.(Photo:BrianDerlak)

Duo qualifies for the Bassmaster High School National Championship in 2019

April 2019

Guntersville Lake, Alabama — Tanner McClain and Garrett White had an incredible finish to their day on Lake Guntersville on March 30, 2019 to place 28th out of 291 boats and qualify them for the 2019 Bassmaster High School National Championship later this summer on Kentucky Lake.

Lake Guntersville is always a special place to go because of its history for producing big bass and most of the anglers on this year’s team had never been on the lake. Lake Guntersville is about twice the size of Chickamauga and has a tremendous amount of vegetation and places for the fish to hide and grow large. We arrived on Thursday morning early and had about a day and a big part of Friday to practice. From all the chatter among the team, practice was good for some and not so good for others. We do our best to communicate with each other and help our teammates that are struggling with what the fish are biting. Going in to Saturday, I thought that our teams would do good across the board. The weather changed and so did the fish and many of the teams didn’t make the adjustments necessary to put a keeper fish in the livewell.

Garrett White description of his three days in Alabama were “Day one of practice we had a pretty good day. We ended up catching 4 fish, which seemed pretty good with it being our first time on the lake. Day two, official practice day, went a lot better. We went out, caught several fish, and had a pattern put together, throwing a white spinnerbait around shallow flats. Then, the big day three came along, the official tournament day. We knew we could go out and catch them, but Guntersville Lake had other plans for us. We pulled up to our first spot, and I ended up catching our first keeper on my third cast. Then, we went without another fish until the lunch break, when Tanner caught our second keeper. We sat down, and threw everything from practice out the window, went back to our first spot, and ended up putting on a show nearly every cast in one spot. We went from throwing a white spinnerbait, to dragging a Texas rig around stumps, catching our limit in about 30 minutes. We were able to cull three times during the day, our last one being by 2 ounces with a fish I caught in the last 15 minutes of fishing. Those 2 ounces ended up being the difference maker for our entire tournament.”

Tanner McClain said “Our first day of practice on Lake Guntersville was a rather hard but successful day. My dad and I hit key areas (points, humps, flats, creek channels) where fish would congregate to get ready for the upcoming spawn. The fishing was tough and inconsistent but Garrett and I were grinding to find a pattern. We knew there was fish in the area but the problem was figuring out how to make them bite. The following day was the official practice day, warmer but the skies were blue with no clouds. The high pressure made the bite tough but Garrett and I managed to put a pattern together. We started throwing a white spinnerbait out on a shallow flat with grass that had a creek channel run straight through it, which makes a perfect spot for bass to hang around.”

“Slowrolling the spinnerbait through the grass and ripping it outcaused a reaction for the fish to bite. On the last day of practice everyone had to be off the water by 4 o’clock. After the safety meeting we drew boat number 257 out of 300+ boats. Tournament morning, we figured our spot was going to be covered up with boats by the time we got there, but once we made it to our spot there was over 10 boats in sight. Garrett and I both picked up a spinnerbait to throw in the area where the fish were. Garrett’s 3rd cast he catches a keeper, but that’s when things went wrong. We fished the whole area and did not get another bite. We came up with the idea to make a move to another spot where we had gotten bites during practice.”

“After another 2 hours it was lunch break and we still only had one fish. We discussed during break on what we should do next, so we fished the rest of the area and I caught a keeper that barely touched the 15 inch mark then we stuck with our gut and decided to fish the spot we started at earlier that morning. The conditions were changing rapidly. A front rolled in with high winds and overcast skies which made everything we learned in practice get thrown out the window. We started on a windblown bank because Garrett and I have had success with this technique.”

“We adjusted to the conditions and later down the bank I hooked into a nice fish on a chatterbait which made for our 2nd fish. Garrett soon after has a couple of bites and catches a short fish so I switched up to the same Texas rigged craw. Thirty minutes into the process we had a limit with a solid 3 and a half pounder. The bite shut back off so we moved to a spot where we caught them the first practice day. To finish out the day Garrett catches a bass so we could cull out the smallest one which gave us 2 more ounces to make the cut for the national championship. Garrett and I are thankful to have such an amazing tournament and finish 28th out of 300+ boats. We are looking forward to participate in the National Championship on Kentucky Lake in August!”

Rhea County had several other teams that also had some solid finishes. Noah Varner and Brandon Iles finished 51st with 11-9, Bryar Goins and Hunter Presley finished 59th with 9-10, and Kalabe Sharpe and Colton Kreiter finished 129th with 4-8. The Juniors Tournament had the team of Blake Wheat and Andon Goins finishing in 6th place with 8-3.  I couldn’t be more proud of our Rhea County Eagle Anglers regardless of where they finished. Thank you to all of our sponsors and countless people who support youth fishing

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