This past weekend, the Russell County High School bass fishing team had two pairings qualify for the Kentucky High School Athletic Association state tournament.
Juniors Will Stephens and Lucas Wray placed seventh, and seniors Nick Aaron and Clay Ferguson placed 17th in the Region 2 Tournament, held at Halcomb’s Landing on the Lake Cumberland side of Wolf Creek Dam.
Russell County only had two boats competing in region, and both finished within the top 32 boats (out of 140) to qualify for state.
“I told the kids before the tournament to just go and have fun,” head coach Shannon Stephens said. “I’m tickled to death for them.”
Stephens/Wray reeled in five fish and had 11 pounds, 15 ounces at weigh-in. Stephens said they had their five-fish limit within the first 30 minutes and were fishing to upgrade the remainder of the tournament.
Aaron/Ferguson reeled in four fish and weighed in at 8 pounds, 14 ounces, and according to Stephens, they nearly had another catch that would have put them even higher in the final standings.
“They had the fifth fish on (the line) a couple of times,” Stephens said, “but it broke one of their lines one time and then one of them jumped off. They were close to having five fish, and that would have put them in the top 10.”
Stephens/Wray and Aaron/Ferguson will compete Friday, May 13, and Saturday, May 14, on Kentucky Lake.
Stephens said this particular location would prove to be a difficult one to fish on for anyone who isn’t used to it.
“The influx of Asian carp and overfishing has put a hurting on the population of bass the last five or six years,” Stephens said. “It’s been a tough place to fish.”
Practice fishing starts on Monday, May 9 — although Stephens said he thought it would be Tuesday before his teams were able to make it there — and the tournament starts on Friday.
“I’m proud of the boys,” Stephens said. “This spring, from the high school to the juniors, they’ve all kind of come alive … All of our teams are doing good and fishing hard. I’m proud of each and every one of them.”
Stephens also made a point to thank the team’s sponsors.
“Without our sponsors, we couldn’t do what we do,” Stephens said. “The community stepped up, and we truly appreciate it.”