Bassmaster Junior Championship

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If you were out at the Carroll County 1,000-Acre Recreational Lake early last week, you might have noticed that things were a little busier than usual.

That’s because the lake was once again serving as ground zero for the Bassmaster Junior National Championship, though this was the first time that the event, which is usually held in late July or early August, has taken place this late in the year.

A total of 54 teams from 28 states, each team consisting of two young anglers in grades 2-8 and an adult boat captain, competed in the two-day fishing tournament on Oct. 19-20.

Weigh-ins were held both days at Billy Cary Memorial Park in Huntingdon, and the top winners were honored following weigh-ins on Oct. 20.

Winning first place this year and a 2,500 prize were Turner Tharpe, 12, and Blake James, 13, from Rhea County in the eastern part of Middle Tennessee.

NATIONAL CHAMPIONS – Turner Tharpe and Blake James from Rhea County, TN show off some of their winning catches during the second day of weigh-ins at the Bassmaster Junior National Championship. Turner and Blake won first place in the tournament.

Serving as their boat captain was Turner’s dad, Brent Tharpe.

Turner and Blake have only been fishing together for about a year, and this is the first year they’ve competed in the national championship.

“It feels amazing,” said Turner. “I’m not sure if we will be able to do this ever again, but I hope we will.”

Together the two reeled in a two-day total of 13 pounds, 15 ounces of fish with 5 pounds and 13 ounces caught on the first day, followed by a big 13-pound, 15-ounce haul on day two.

According to the young fishermen, they started out fishing shallow just offshore throwing a wacky rig on Monday, but they changed tactics on Tuesday, aiming at deeper waters further out in the lake and switching to drop shot.

“We figured out they weren’t up shallow, so we moved out and started catching some fish,” said Turner.

Taking second place in the tourney with a total of 12 pounds, 8 ounces were Logan Lopossa and Koby Sollars, both 13, and captain Brandon Lopossa with Southside Anglers from Bloomington, Indiana.

Third place went to Kasen Pembertonb, 15, and Hunter Prough, 13, with Liberty County Anglers from Chipley, Florida. They reeled in a two-day total of 12 pounds, 3 ounces. Chad Prough served as their boat captain.

No local teams participated in this year’s tournament.

The event was hosted by the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce and Bethel University.

“We were clearly excited with so many teams coming in from 28 different states,” said Chamber President Brad Hurley, who added that the visiting anglers really enjoyed the hospitality shown by the local community and businesses.

Huntingdon Mayor Dale Kelley and Hurley presented Bassmaster reps Jon Stewart and Hank Weldon with keys to the city during pre-weigh-in ceremonies on Oct. 19.

KEYS TO THE CITY – Huntingdon Mayor Dale Kelley and Carroll County Chamber of Commerce President Brad Hurley present Bassmaster reps Jon Stewart and Hank Weldon with keys to the city.

The Huntingdon High School Marching Band kicked the event off that day with a parade from the court square to the park and a performance of the national anthem.

Jeruna Cozart of McLemoresville sang the national anthem on the second day.

For all the ways they helped out with the event, Hurley thanked Carroll County Civic Center staff, Huntingdon Police and Fire Departments, Huntingdon Public Works, Carroll County Rescue Squad, Carroll County Fire Department, Carroll Bank & Trust, Kent Jones Law Firm, Carroll County Electric Department, Carroll County News-Leader, and his fellow Chamber members.

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