Two Warren County anglers are in South Carolina to compete in the Bass Master High School National Championship.
This national tournament will be the start of new chapter for freshman Gage Pursley and the end of one for high school graduate Braxton Campbell. This will be Pursley’s first national high school tournament and Campbell’s last.
The partners left the state on Sunday and will be practicing for three days and competing on Thursday and Friday. The top 12 will get to compete Saturday.
“This is really what you work the whole year to qualify for,” said Campbell. “You get some opportunities at this tournament that you don’t get very often. If you win this tournament, you get a lot of publicity and it pays pretty well. You also get to go fish the first day of the Bass Master Classic with the pros.”
The teams that qualify for the last day will win $1,000 regardless. The overall winner of the tournament will win $10,000 and get to fish the first day at the Bass Master Classic with the professionals.
The pair will be fishing in Lake Hartwell and have a strategy. Pursley says a lot of research and practice is involved. Campbell says researching the different fish in the lake is important.
“It fishes different than our lakes around here,” said Campbell. “There is a different kind of bait that they eat over there and it makes the fish act a lot differently. You just have to do some research before you go and learn about these different lakes. It is going to be different for sure.”
This is Pursley’s first national high school tournament and he is looking forward to going out there and hopefully coming home with some money and experience.
“I am excited about the experience,” said Pursley.
Campbell hopes to at least make it to the top 12 at his last national high school tournament.
“I would just really like to make the last-day cut,” said Campbell. “To win everything has to go right and all your decisions have to be right and everything has to go good. As long as we can make the last-day cut I would be satisfied. The goal is to win, but if we can make the top 12, I will be satisfied.”
This will be the last time the partners will be fishing together. Campbell graduated from WCHS this year and although he had some offers from colleges he would rather fish locally.
“I have had some offers, but there is a lot of traveling involved with college fishing,” said Campbell. “I would rather fish local in local adult tournaments.”
Campbell and Pursley will be hitting the lake on Thursday hoping to fish their way to the top 12.