Barclay Butler and Conner McLaughlin didn’t win the Bassmaster High School National Championship, but they served notice they could be a force in high school fishing for the next three seasons.
The Scottsboro High School sophomores posted a seventh-place finish in the tournament on Kentucky Lake in Paris, Tennessee.
“They’ve got three more years to make a run at this thing,” said the emcee at the weigh-in. “Great start to their high school career.”
Butler and McLaughlin finished the tournament with a three-day catch of 10 fish that weighed 32 pounds, 6 ounces. They missed sixth place by only three ounces.
“Just qualifying for this tournament is a huge deal but going up there and placing seventh out of 300 in the nation is beyond words,” said Scottsboro fishing coach Cully Nelson. “These guys have put Scottsboro, SHS and (the Scottsboro) BassCats on the map in high school fishing. We believed that they would be successful at the state level, but when you put freshmen on a national stage, anything can happen and they showed out. With three more years of eligibility you know people will be following these guys and also be a little nervous when they see them at blast off (at tournaments).”
Butler and McLaughlin were in 38th-place after Day 1 with three fish weighing 9-03. But they made a big move on Day 2, catching their five fish limit that weighed 17-06, the third largest total of the day. That moved them to sixth place heading into the final day, which featured only the Top 12 anglers. The duo caught two fish weighing 5-13 on the final day, a tough one for anglers as only four of the 12 duos caught their limit.
“We didn’t catch a fish deep. It was all shallow,” Butler said.
McLaughlin said the duo used a variety of top-water baits during the tournament.
Grayson Morris and Tucker Smith of Briarwood Christian in Birmingham won their second straight Bassmaster High School National Championship with a three-day total of 15 fish weighing 50-01.
Butler and McLaughlin were each awarded a $1,250 scholarship from BASS and Bassmaster High School Fishing. All of the Top 12 anglers also picked up a scholarship offer from Bethel University in Nashville. Butler’s and McLaughlin’s were for $20,000.
The duo were grateful to their, sponsors, families, community, coaches and boat captain Matt McLaughlin for their help and support.