Mitchell Gowen and Brianna Tucker of Decatur Heritage outfished 65 other high school teams to win the 2013 B.A.S.S. High School Invitational on Wheeler Lake in Decatur, Ala., Saturday by bringing in 16 pounds, 15 ounces of
largemouth bass. This was the first event of its kind and netted the team a spot in the 2014 B.A.S.S. High School Classic, which will be held in conjunction with the 2014 Bassmaster Classic. Gowen and Tucker will be joined in the
Classic by the rest of the Top 8 finishers from the invitational.
“I just want to thank God for giving us the opportunity to fish,” said Tucker, who was responsible for four of the five fish the team weighed in Saturday. “I also want to thank our boat captain.”
Norman Brown, their boat captain, said that things did not start off with a bang, but his team stayed focus and for that he was proud of them. “Around 9 [a.m.] I think they only had one fish,” Brown said.
“Once we started catching them, it kind of happened all at once,” Tucker said. “She caught the first three back-to-back-to-back,” Brown said.
That initial burst was triggered by water generated through Guntersville Dam. The team fished a few spots upriver from Decatur, and it wasn’t until the current arrived that the team finally found their groove. “The last two we had to scrape for,” Brown said. “We probably caught 10
fish. The biggest one they weighed in was around 4 and 1/2 [pounds] and the smallest was about 2 and 3/4 [pounds].”
Finding a consistent, quality bite helped Decatur Heritage overcome some of the bigger fish weighed in Saturday, including the 5-3 Carhartt Big Bass caught by Jake Turnbloom and JT Russell of Briarwood Christian.
The majority of the fish that Tucker and Gowen brought to the scales came on a Norman DD22 crankbait. Gowen also caught one fish dragging a big worm.
In addition to Tucker’s and Gowen’s 2014 B.A.S.S. High School Classic berth, the duo and Brown received exclusive backstage privileges for the entire 2014 Bassmaster Classic.
Joining Tucker and Gowen in the 2014 B.A.S.S. High School Classic are runners-up Jarrett Martin and Billy Powers of Gallia Academy High School, third-place finishers Tanner Jones and Clay Teague of Tuscaloosa County High School, fourth-place finishers Beau Ashcraft and
Shawn Zellers of Wabash Valley Bassmasters, fifth-place finishers John Garrett and Peyton Lyons of Obion County Student Anglers, sixth-place finishers Ryan Winchester and Justin Burris of Clinton High School, seventh-place finishers Jake Lee and Jacob Mashburn of Clinton
High School, and eighth-place finishers Ben Stone and Christopher Bensel of Dixie High School.