From June 27 to July 1, Lake Pickwick, Ala., was home to the High School Fishing World Finals hosted by the Student Angler Federation, which reported that 332 two-angler teams from 33 states and Canada participated in this year’s event based out of Florence, Ala.
When all was said and done, the grand prize — a pair of $24,000 scholarships awarded by Bethel University, went to two young men from Lawrence, Tenn.
Central Texas was represented in this event by Memorial Christian Academy’s Alex Chambers and Harker Heights High School’s Preston Pittman. Both will be juniors this upcoming school year, and both are sponsored by Tightlines Premium Fishing Tackle.
Pittman was quick to express his appreciation for the support from Killeen-based Tightlines.
“Without those guys, this just wouldn’t be possible. They give us discounts on everything in the store, they’ve arranged for guest speakers like Keith Combs to come talk to us, they give us one-on-one fishing advice when we need it and they help get us to tournaments.”
Tightlines takes a proactive role in searching out student-friendly events, making students aware of the events, and arranging for boats and boat captains to aid the students in fishing at such events.
At Lake Pickwick, the boys’ boat was captained by Alex’s father, Ken Chambers, on the first two days.
The boys decided where to fish, how long to fish there, what to fish with, and when to move on, while their boat captain safely navigated their bass boat.
Both boys were supported by family at this event. Their moms, dads, sisters and grandparents were in attendance.
Chambers and Pittman found the flow of water through the reservoir made holding their boat in position difficult and they struggled to land any legal fish on the first two days.
On their third day of fishing in what was called the “Second Chance” round, and with their boat captained by Preston’s dad, Brian Pittman, they finally scored by putting three fish in the boat weighing a total of 6 pounds, 15 ounces. This put the pair in 98th place in a field of 255 teams.
In interviews with both young men, I asked what each learned as they competed at this high level.
Said Pittman: “I learned the most about fishing a river system lake and how tough current can make fishing deep ledges, which is where we found the fish.
“We had a tough time with the current, but now I know what to look for and what to do.”
Pittman used a Carolina rig with a Zoom Speed Worm in Green Pumpkin Magic color to land his fish from a ledge that rose from 30 feet of water up to 22 feet.
Chambers added: “I found that the fish really didn’t relate to structure as much in the current because the current had them chasing the shad around in the middle of nowhere and we’d never seen that before. The fish just kept moving around, and we saw how teams that did great on the first day couldn’t find any fish on the second day because that current had the fish moving so much.”
Both anglers’ future plans include pursuing fishing scholarships and fishing for the Stephen F. Austin University fishing team. Chambers desires to fish the Elite or FLW professional circuit after college.