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TFS bass fishing team wins big at Lake Hartwell
Two student-anglers at Tallulah Falls School are writing a new chapter for the record books with a first-place win at the Georgia BASS Nation High School Lake Hartwell tournament held March 10.
With 143 teams launching with the sun barely peeking about the treetops at Tugaloo State Park at Lake Hartwell, four teams from Tallulah Falls School came out to represent the school.
Charter members of the Tallulah Falls School Bass Fishing Club, junior Marshall Harrelson of Clarkesville and sophomore Marshall Williams of Homer, followed a game plan developed during practice fishing trips to Lake Hartwell.
“Fishing a few key places on the 56,000-acre lake in search of largemouth and spotted bass, on the second stop of the morning the fishing paused and the catching commenced,” said captain Russell Williams. “They were able to boat their first fish of the day before moving to other locations increasing their creel weight and building towards their five fish limit.”
After netting three legal-sized, but average-weight fish, the team landed on another location that would prove to be the sweet spot for the day, Williams said.
“In short order, Harrelson cast to a specific spot and let his bait sink down to the lake bed,” he said “Quickly, his bait was nailed by a 4 pound, 3 ounce largemouth bass which he brought to the boat for the team’s fourth keeper of the day. Catching this fish ensured Team Williams would bring a respectable total to the scales and certainly helped with the team’s Angler of the Year points standings. Two casts later into the same spot, another lunker grabbed hold of Harrelson’s lure.”
According to Williams, the lively fish, once netted by Williams, weighed in at 4 pounds, 11 ounces, adding the fifth legal fish of the day into the boat’s live wells, designed to maintain the health of the fish in an oxygen-rich environment so they can be released after weigh-in.
“With two very nice largemouths in the live wells, along with three legal-sized spotted bass, I suspected the anglers had a very good chance at placing very high if not winning the tournament,” Williams said. “However, five casts later, Marshall Williams hooked yet another ‘hawg.’ He was using lighter tackle and had an anxious and exciting fight getting this fish up to the boat so his teammate could help out with the net.”
This trophy catch weighed 5 pounds, 5 ounces, allowing the team to cull the smallest fish and put them in a better position for the overall outcome against the other teams from all across the state.
This fish just missed winning the Big Fish award by 9 ounces, Williams said.
“Regardless, the team landed three fish totaling 14 pounds, 4 ounces in less than 10 minutes in an area smaller than a two-car garage,” he added. “The TFS anglers experienced a phenomenal event that I’ve read about and watched professional fishermen accomplish on television on rare occasions. However, most anglers, professional or amateur, never get to experience something like this in their lifetimes.”
At weigh-in, the pair took their fish bag to the scales to see 19.01 pounds from a five fish limit.
This weight proved to easily be enough at the scales to secure the victory by a margin of almost 4 pounds over the nearest competitor.
The weight of 19.01 pounds also represents a personal best for Team Williams and the first time since the duo have been fishing together over the last three years to have won a tournament. With a victory in this statewide competition, Team Williams has now triple qualified for the State Championship and moved up to No. 10 in the Angler of the Year rankings.
While the other Tallulah Falls School angler teams fished just as hard, their results weren’t as strong.
In an unusual outcome for Team Mitchell, the sibling pair of sixth-grade angler Molly Mitchell and fifth-grade angler Jacob Mitchell of Cornelia, the team fished hard all day but was unable to put together a pattern to produce any fish.
Team Griffis, with junior Caleb Griffis and sophomore Caden Griffis of Martin, brought a limit to the scales weighing 6.74 pounds.
Team Harrelson with junior Will Jackson and sophomore Thomas Harris pulled the scales down to 6.51 pounds with a five-fish limit as well.