Rogers partners take 31st in nation, while Elk River duo also fares well
by Jake Andersen
Two local high school bass fishing teams made their way down to Florence, Alabama, for the 10th annual High School Fishing World Finals and National Championship on June 19-22 and despite a steep learning curve, they represented their respective schools quite well.
Rogers duo Logan Brecht and Gavin Adair placed 31st out of 215 teams in the nation, while Elk River partners Logan Huewe and Gavin Melcher took 78th over a four-day national/world event on Pickwick Lake — located on the Tennessee River — where they had to adjust to an almost brand new way of bass fishing.
“The fishing on Pickwick Lake is drastically different than fishing lakes in Minnesota. There’s not much for weeds or weed lines on Pickwick. You’re mostly fishing ledges — gradual to sharp dropoffs from 15–30 feet of water near the main river channel,” Melcher said. “You’re also looking for (clam) shell beds on these ledges. These typically attract bait (shad), which attract bass.”
“There’s a lot bigger baits you use because they have a lot bigger fish down there because they have all year to grow,” Brecht said. “In Minnesota, it freezes over. So it’s a way different type of fishing, just the tactics you use and stuff.”
“The fishing was very challenging,” Melcher added. “Of all of the teams, 27 teams did not catch a legal bass during the first two days of fishing. That shows you how tough the fishing can be.”
While there were plenty of adjustments to be made, both teams, who qualified for the tourney based on their finish in last summer’s Student Angler Tournament Trail (SATT) standings, used their three days of prefishing before the tournament to their advantage, turning in successful showings. Yet, that didn’t mean their practice sessions on the lake were particularly encouraging, finding only a few spots along the 50-mile long, 43,000 acre lake.
As it turned out, though, that was all they needed.
“We didn’t really find much in practice,” Adair said. “We just kind of ran the spots we knew we had and that’s pretty much all we really had going for us and it ended up working out.”
Huewe echoed the same: “Prefishing was pretty tough, but come the tournament days, we brought in our limits each day. Of course, bigger bags would have been great, but I’m happy with what we did.”
For Brecht and Adair, they had a strong first two days that ended up qualifying them for the world semifinals on the third day — teams in the national championship were also a part of a bigger world tournament of 389 total teams. They traveled out 45 miles to their first spot on all three days, catching their limit of three bass right away — the maximum number of legal fish you can bag for weigh in — at a main lake point with a good ledge. Seven of their nine bass over three days ended up coming from the spot.
They were 29th after the first day, weighing in at 10 pounds, 3 ounces, thanks to a 4.8 pound bass caught by Brecht in the final 15 minutes. They then pulled in 8 pounds of bass on Day 2, giving them a two-day total of 18 pounds, 3 ounces. They caught 6 pounds on Day 3, which wasn’t enough to qualify them for the World Finals on Day 4. Nevertheless, they were quite satisfied with where they ended up in their first national/world tournaments.
“I feel pretty good about it,” Brecht said. “It’s a lake we’ve never fished before, far away, and I feel like we picked it apart good. I mean, I wish we would have found some bigger fish, but I feel the way we fished it and went about it was pretty good.”
“I’d say we did pretty well for a couple of Minnesota boys going down south,” Adair added, noting boat captain Joe Semler Jr. was a tremendous help.
As for Melcher and Huewe, they also zeroed in on a particular spot on Pickwick Lake that netted them their limit each day, weighing in at 6 pounds, 7 ounces on Day 1 and 7 pounds, 9 ounces on Day 2 for a two-day total of 14 pounds. While they fell short of the world semifinals, they entered the second chance round on Day 3 — a round with 313 teams, competing for a small portion of spots in the world finals — and had their best day, weighing in at 8 pounds, which was 57th among teams in the second chance round.
“Fortunately things came together fairly good. We were fortunate to get our three fish limit each of the tournament days,” said Melcher, whose dad, Jason, was their boat captain. “Our desire is always to take first and win the tournament, but based on all the circumstances, we felt pretty good about how we finished, considering Pickwick Lake requires totally different fishing styles than what we’re used to.”
This year’s tournament was Melcher’s and Huewe’s second straight one, so they’re looking forward to the opportunity of making a third with another strong SATT season as juniors this summer. If they qualify, next year’s tourney takes place on the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
“I am super motivated to get back on that stage next year because it is in Wisconsin versus back in the South,” Huewe said. “Gavin and I fished nationals last year in Tennessee and this year in Alabama, so it will be awesome to be more local and more similar to our way of fishing.”
The drive to return to nationals/worlds is shared by fellow juniors Brecht and Adair, who are off to a great start in the SATT this summer.
“That’s the goal. We’ve been doing good this season. We came in third in our first tournament and eighth in our second,” Brecht said. “So if one more tournament goes well, we’ll hopefully make it.”