TowBoatUS Battle of Chickamauga Classic set for April 28

The most exciting high school bass fishing tournament in the nation returns to Dayton, Tennessee, as the TowBoatUS Battle of Chickamauga High School Classic presented by CATCH Ministry is set for Saturday, April 28.  Click here to register online.

Yes.  It’s the tournament that has an actual cannon firing during blast-off, a championship belt, and weighing in on a full concert stage equipped with “hot seat”, music, and LED lighting.

This is all part of the atmosphere organizers Fish Dayton and CATCH Ministry have created in order to give high school anglers a once-in-a-lifetime experience in the most exciting high school event in the nation.

Springville (AL) Anglers Logan Henderson and Steven Swann – 2017 Battle of Chickamauga Champions

With a field of 347 boats and 1,033 total participants, last year’s event was easily the largest field in B.A.S.S. tournament history.  Logan Henderson and Steven Swann from the Springville (Ala.) Anglers won the event with a 24-pound, 1-ounce limit of bass that now ranks as one of the largest ever caught in a B.A.S.S. high school open event.

Payouts greater than 100% of registration fees will be paid thanks to the many sponsors: including title sponsor TowBoatUS, Bass Pro Shops, Real Deal Tackle, Bunch Marine, Shimano, Academy Sports and Outdoors, Frogg Toggs, and Solar Bat to name a few.

According to Fish Dayton Director Dennis Tumlin, it’s not the just bright lights that draws the best high school anglers from around the country – it’s the chance to catch monster bass in Lake Chickamauga.

“The event atmosphere is one-of-a-kind but so is the fishing.  Where else do you have a chance to catch a 10-pound bass on every cast,” states Tumlin.

Tumlin isn’t exagerating.  In last year’s event, a 10 pound 11 ounce largemouth was brought in by Chase Carter and Adam Sansom of the North West Georgia Anglers for the largest bass ever weighed in a Bassmaster High School open event.

2015 Battle of Chick winners, Soddy Daisy High School’s Elijah Cartwright and Jacob Thomas with 32.59 lbs – (5 Fish) (photo: Gary Bolden)

In 2015, Soddy Daisy High School’s Elijah Cartwright and Jacob Thomas dropped a five fish limit worth 32.59 pounds on the scales to win the inaugural title.

“It was the largest Bassmaster high school state event when it started, and it’s grown each year,” states David Lowrie who serves as Bassmaster’s Tennessee High School Director.

“As a state director and high school coach, I know how exciting it is for team to carry the belt for a year.”

2016 Champs – Grundy County’s Kyle Ingleburger, Coach David Lowrie, and Kyle Palmer (ElmerHarris)

Lowrie knows this first hand as his team of Kyle Ingleburger and Kyle Palmer won the 2016 event with 29.57 pounds to take the championship belt back to Grundy County High School.

But it’s not the belt or the bass that brings scores of volunteers from CATCH Ministry to support and help organize the event.

“For us, it’s about sharing the gospel for us.  We’re just excited to be able to have an impact and make a difference in these young lives,” says CATCH Ministry’s Kevin Johnson

“These kids are worth the effort and that’s why we do what we do,” adds Keith Gombash of CATCH Ministry who as the event’s stage announcer, knows how to bring out the Elite Series Pro in all competitors – even the shy ones.

In addition to the high school event, there will also be junior event for younger anglers that runs concurrent with the high school event.  Juniors will weigh-in on the same stage one hour earlier.

#BASSTOWNUSA

Dayton is also the perfect place for families coming to support their favorite high school angler.  Since the first Battle of Chickamauga Classic in 2015, there has been over 13 million dollars in private capital invested in lodging and dining alone.

As event sponsors Dayton’s new Sleep Inn & Suites and Holiday Inn Express love high school fishing and the families that support them.

“We are always excited to have high school anglers and their families stay with us,” states Van Meter Hotels COO Nathaniel Eastwood.  “These events have a positive impact on our community.”

Registrants will also receive an $8 voucher to use at the following restaurants: Monkey Town Brewing Company, Amigo’s Mexican Restaurant, Carrabelle’s, Screen Door Café, and Ayala’s Mexican Restaurant.

There will be a mandatory Safety and Rules meeting at the Dayton Boat Dock & Grill on Friday, April 27 at 7pm .

Register or learn more about the TowBoatUS Battle of Chickamauga here. Learn more on their Facebook page or by contacting Dennis Tumlin with the Rhea County Economic and Tourism Council at 423-775-6171 or dennistumlin@rheacountyetc.com.

Records broke and history made at the 2017 Battle of Chick

DAYTON, Tenn. — A field of 347 boats and 1,033 total participants took part in Saturday’s Costa Bassmaster High School Southern Open presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods on Chickamauga Lake.

The event broke records before the first cast was made, with the largest field in B.A.S.S. history. Then once the fishing began, the records just kept falling.

Logan Henderson and Steven Swann from the Springville (Ala.) Anglers won with a 24-pound, 1-ounce limit of bass that now ranks as the largest ever caught in a B.A.S.S. high school event. They finished just ahead of Colton Williams and Chase Taylor of the Good Hope (Ala.) fishing team, who placed second with 22-11.

The previous record catch of 23-14 was caught by Alex Heintze and Justin Watts in 2015.

“It started off kind of slow for us,” said Henderson, a sophomore at Springville High School in St. Clair County, Ala. “Then we caught one about 5 pounds — Steven did — and at about 10:15(a.m.), we caught one that weighed 8-3.

“Then from about 10:15 until about noon, it just got slow.”

Henderson and Swann caught all of their fish around brushpiles in 12 to 15 feet. They couldn’t get the bass to bite anything but a Strike King 5XD crankbait — but it wasn’t for lack of trying.

“We fished a football head jig and a spoon, but we couldn’t get them to hit either one,” Swann said. “All of a sudden, from about 1 to 3, they just started biting again.”

It was the first trip for the pair to Chickamauga, and they only had about a day and a half to practice. Their boat captain, Kenny Pannell, who is also Logan’s grandfather, arrived a day earlier than the youngsters and did a little scouting himself.

There were moments of anxiety for the winning team during the midday lull — even with two big fish already in the livewell.

“It’s tough, because you’re anticipating another big one,” Henderson said. “We didn’t want to waste those two big ones we had already caught.

“We finally changed areas, and the second spot where we started catching them had brush that was a little more scattered.”

Henderson and Swann knew by the time they got to the weigh-in stage that they would need a big weight to replace Williams and Taylor as the leaders. The eventual second-place finishers weighed in early, and had been sitting in the hot seat with 22-11 for more than an hour when Henderson and Swann took the stage.

The impressive catch of Williams and Taylor was anchored by a largemouth that weighed 7-10.

“We pulled up on a spot where we knew there was some grass, but we didn’t catch anything for about 30 minutes,” Taylor said. “We moved a little deeper and started catching them. That was the only spot we stayed in all day.”

The spot, which was only about 20 feet long, was the kind of place tournament anglers of all ages dream of finding.

“We caught 43 fish out of that one spot,” Williams said. “It was just a lucky spot that we had never fished before.”

The anglers stayed with their special spot as long as they could. But with boat troubles dogging them throughout the day, they decided to make a 35-minute run back to another spot that was closer to the launch site.

Fishing was much tougher for them after the move.

“I know we could have caught another kicker if we could have stayed there longer,” Taylor said.

Taylor spent most of his day using a 1/2-ounce chartreuse ChatterBait with a small swimbait trailer. Williams said he used a 1/2-ounce crawfish-colored Rat-L-Trap.

Another record that fell was the largest bass ever caught during a B.A.S.S. high school event. Chase Carter and Adam Sansom of the North West Georgia Anglers established a new mark — one that will be hard to top in the future — with a largemouth that weighed 10-11.

On a day when numerous bass in the 7- to 8-pound range were caught, Carter and Sansom easily earned the award for Big Bass.

“He thought he had a catfish,” said Sansom, a high school junior. “But then when that thing opened its mouth, my heart just stopped.”

Carter, a freshman, had a similar reaction.

“It probably took me an hour to stop shaking,” he said.

Rounding out the Top 5 were Houston Calvert and Chase Abbott, Cold Springs Fishing Team (20-14), Justin Lowery and James Cobbs, Cullman High School (20-7) and Chace Gregory and Tucker Weidler, Helena High School (20-6).

The Top 35 teams from the event qualified for the Costa Bassmaster High School National Championship presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, scheduled for June 19-24 on Kentucky Lake in Paris, Tenn.