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Peterhouse Boys

High School Bass Tournament 2018

Kentucky Lake, Tennessee

The team of Darren Crause, Manager/Coach and anglers Kirk Barnes and Michael Benade left Zimbabwe on the 24th July 2018 and arrived in New York on 25th July 2018 and carried on to Nashville Tennessee. This was a brief stopover mainly to visit the Bass Pro shop to get baits and tackle suitable for fishing on Lake Kentucky and to collect the towing vehicle which had been booked six weeks earlier in anticipation of collecting a boat which was being provided for us. Unfortunately, a break down in communication caused there to be no boat available for the team’s use.

Many thanks must go to Dean Lewis, a former Junior Zimbabwe Team Bass angler, for towing his boat from Schreveport in Louisiana (an eight hour trip) to the Lake for the duration of the team’s stay.

Fishing on an expanse of water the size of Lake Kentucky was daunting and rather overwhelming for all team members including Darren. Despite Dean’s research and maps, only having 4 days to practice was not adequate to cover both upper and lower reaches of the lake in order to find the pattern. Sticking to the budget on this size lake regarding fuel costs created limitations. Kirk and Michael were subjected to a totally new way of fishing, having to fish sand bars with no structure at all. The Lake had come down three and a half feet prior to the team’s arrival therefore much had changed on the lake in comparison to all the YouTube videos where the anglers were fishing strong currents. Both boys threw a variety of new baits which they never been exposed to before and adapted exceptionally well.

Practice was hard but small pockets of fish were found which was encouraging. The size limit for this Lake was 15 inch not 12 inch as in Zimbabwe. Unfortunately, the number of Asian Carp in the Lake did not help trying to locate shoals of bass on the depth finder. A common fault of Zimbabwe junior anglers is presuming the “feel” of a bite means a bass but in too many cases not pricking the odd fish during practice gives false optimism. This time of year is extremely hot (up in the 40’s) and despite feeling fatigued and lethargic the boys maintained their enthusiasm and did their best to remain focused at all times. This is a very admirable attitude and the two boys need to be congratulated on never giving up.

Tournament started on 2nd August at 4am for the team. Zimbabwe was in the second flight out and so had to launch early as there were 347 boats taking part in this event. To give an idea of the size of this event, the highway was actually manned by the highway patrol who stopped traffic in favour of vehicles towing boats to get into the marina. The two days of tournament fishing was extremely hard and unfortunately the boys were only able to land undersize fish. Zimbabwe were unable to weigh in any keeper fish during the tournament and therefore did not make the top 12 cut to fish the third day. It is worth noting that over 120 other teams also did not weigh in any fish. This is the first time that a team from overseas has taken part in this High School tournament and it seems that this is likely to be made into more of a World Champs High School tournament.

The main thrust of this tournament in America is to award scholarships to Universities throughout the USA. Bethel University hosted this year in conjunction with Hank Weldon of Bassmasters and it was an extremely well run and successful tournament.
Taking two juniors on a trip of this nature is not possible with only one manager/coach. The days start early and finish late and meals/laundry/food shopping etc still need to be covered. In this regard I would like to thank my wife Sheelah, for fulfilling this role.

Grateful thanks must go to the sponsors that helped make this trip possible, namely Bayete Lodge, Insurance Services, HHK Safaris, Sterling Crafts, Maguires, Master Angler, Tiger Wakka, Grow Agriculture and Wild Horizons. Thanks also to Peterhouse School for allowing their students to be part of this inaugural trip. Last but not least, special thanks to Zimbabwe National Bass Federation for their donation and assistance in sending the team to the States.

Darren Crause