Mississippi teams took two of the top three spots in Monday’s Costa Bassmaster High School Series Central Open at Toledo Bend, including a win by Oak Grove’s Caleb Gatwood and Cayden Soberoski.
Gatwood and Soberoski did it with only three bass, two short of the day’s limit. Gatwood caught two of them, a 6-pound, 8-ounce kicker and a nearly twin 6-5.
Soberoski hooked only one, and it may have been the biggest 1-pound, 7-ounce fish he’ll ever catch. It was the team’s final catch and was the one that pushed them atop the leaderboard with a 14-pound, 4-ounce total, the best of the 98 teams entered from 10 different states.
It earned them $1,000 for the Oak Grove High School team and one of the 10 spots in August’s Costa National Championship at Kentucky Lake.
Also going to the National are Will Moffett and Kyle McCormick of Franklin County High School, who finished tied for third with 12-9.
Gatwood and Soberoski were elated.
“We were hoping we’d get a top position, but with only three fish, I was nervous,” Gatwood, a 17-year-old incoming senior, told Bassmaster.com. “It’s a high school tournament, so you don’t expect 25-pound bags everywhere, but you’d think you’d see one. I was thinking we had a shot (to win,) but it was slim.”
They got off to a hot start early on Toledo Bend with Gatwood catching his two big fish between 8:30 and 9:15 a.m. He was using a shaky head jig with a long magnum finesse worm in about 30 feet of water off points. He was targeting an underwater hump in 25 feet of water.
Then things went quiet and the sun beat down relentlessly. They caught a short fish that had to be released and with only 15 minutes it looked as if they couldn’t back up those two fat fish.
Then Soberoski hooked up and the win was in the bag.
“I finally caught a fish, and it was the fish that kept us in first place,” said Soberoski, 16 and a rising junior at Oak Grove. “Normally I fish decent in deep water, but I had a tough day. I was fishing a Carolina rig, but wasn’t getting much action at all.
“I’m stoked,” he added, talking about the trip to the Nationals. “I know it’s going to be fun.”
Added Gatwood: “Winning here is great, but I want one in Kentucky too.”
Dailus Richardson and Trevor McKinney of Benton (Ill.) High School finished second at 13-13, followed by Moffett and McCormick who tied for third with locals Hunter Muncrief and Landen McCary of West Sabine Bass Club (Texas), at 12-9.
Rounding out the top 10 were fifth, Ben Abraham, Alexandria (La.) Senior High School 12-5; sixth, Grant Bourque and Ethan Smart of Ascension (La.) Anglers, 12-2; seventh, Kole Greer and Kyler Radford of North DeSoto (La.) High School, 11-14; eighth, Stephen Whitlow and Jared Young of Sarasota (Fla.) High School, 11-14; ninth, Wesley Holt and Colby Miller of Oak Hill (La.) High School, 10-13; and 10th, Kyle Everett and Dustin Wellman of DeRidder (La.) High School, 10-11.