The first-year bass fishing programs at Berkeley and Stratford high schools turned in outstanding performances in the South Carolina State High School Fishing Championship held last Sunday on the Santee Cooper lakes.
The top six teams from the 63-team tournament sponsored by The Bass Federation advanced to the regionals that will be held in September on Georgia’s Lake Lanier. The tournament was won by Oakley Connor and Daniel Clark of Travelers Rest, who had a five-bass limit that weighed 23 pounds, 9 ounces.
Berkeley had three two-man teams finish in the top 10, including Eric Glenn and Nathan McPherson, who finished second to earn a regional berth. Glenn and McPherson had a five-bass total of 16 pounds. Berkeley’s Hagen Schindledecker and Kaelin Hawkins finished eighth (four bass, 9-10), and Tommy Monnet and Nolan Lytchfield placed ninth (three bass, 9-5).
Stratford’s Andrew Nico and Parker Calvert just missed out on a regional berth with three bass that weighed 10-2, good for a seventh-place finish but nine ounces shy of the top six.
McPherson and Glenn fished out of a boat captained by Glenn’s father, Darrell Glenn. They caught their bass using watermelon red Gary Yamamoto Senko worms from Lake Moultrie.
“We practiced Saturday in Pinopolis,” said Eric Glenn, a sophomore at Berkeley. “We were in the second flight of boats and blasted off at 6:45. That gave time for the fish to move up on the bed a little better.”
Glenn said based on the practice, he and McPherson thought they would catch a limit of about 16 pounds, exactly what they finished with, and that would be good enough to qualify for regionals.
“I figured we would make the cut, but I didn’t think we would come in second. I figured we would come in fourth or fifth. I was pretty stoked,” Glenn said. “We were in first place for a while, then the (winning team) came in. “
McPherson said they caught plenty of fish. Their 16-pound limit was anchored by a 4-, 4½-pound bass.
“We knew we had a decent bag, but thought everybody else would, too. We thought we were average,” said McPherson, a Berkeley junior.
Berkeley High School bass fishing coach George Brittle said it has been a wonderful first year and the team still has tournaments to fish.
“I feel that we get better with each tournament,” Brittle said. “In the beginning, only a few anglers were catching fish. Now we have others stepping up when one team has a bad outing. We have had four different teams that have been leaders in a tournament.
“The second-place finish on Sunday was huge. We have received an overwhelming amount of attention from our community. Hopefully, that will translate into more sponsorships and donations. We are self-funding and can’t survive without the support of our great community. The leadership provided by our boat captains is priceless. I can’t say enough about the value of their experience, knowledge and patience and how much it means to this program. A second-place finish in a state tournament in our first year in existence is amazing. But the fact that we had three top-10 finishes in a field of 63 boats is even better. If we can continue to grow, I expect bigger and better things.”