Wednesday, February 7, 2024

High School Winners at Strike King Bassmaster H.S. Event at Clarks Hill

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. — The longer the journey, the sweeter the destination.

That was the story for Carter Pjesky and JD McBroom of the Off the Hook Bassmasters, who notched their first team victory by catching a five-bass limit of 15 pounds, 8 ounces and winning the Strike King Bassmaster High School Series at Clarks Hill Reservoir.

“We’ve been out here grinding at it a long time,” said Pjesky, who noted that he’s been fishing tournaments since he was in fourth grade. “We’ve worked hard, so this feels good."

For their win, Pjesky and McBroom took home a $4,000 team prize and earned a spot in the Strike King Bassmaster High School Series National Championship.

Representing Kaneland High in Maple Park, Ill., Pjesky and McBroom targeted largemouth in the lake’s clearer water on the lower end. While they were confident in their plan, the anglers fared even better than expected.

“We found a couple decent ones in practice, but nothing spectacular,” Pjesky said. “We were surprised by our weight.”

Focusing on the bass that were targeting the nomadic blueback herring, the winners used Damiki rigs and bird-dogged bait schools in 6 to 30 feet of water all day. Covering water and watching for bait schools led them to hungry bass.

“We’d set that Garmin LVS34 (transducer) out to 100 feet, set that Garmin Force trolling motor on 100 and search,” Pjesky said.

McBroom said they fished a herring-colored Yamamoto Scope Shad on a 3/16-ounce jighead. Technique, he said, was simple: Just keep the bait in the feeding position.

“You just bomb it out to them and they’d come up to it,” McBroom said. “You had to keep it above their head.

“Some were 10 feet under the surface and then some down on the bottom. The ones that were up higher were easier to catch because they were feeding.”

Pjesky said the weather system moving across the Southeast brought dimmer conditions that likely curtailed their opportunities.

“Our morning was better, but I think those herring fish were getting a little finicky with the clouds,” he said. “I think if it had been sunny, we would have done better.

“Our afternoon was pretty tough, but we didn’t do anything different. We pretty much just ground it out and stuck with what we’d been doing.”

McBroom said he and his partner filled their limit by 1 o’clock and finalized their weight with a late-day kicker — a 5-pounder that bit at 2:30.

“This win means a lot,” Pjesky said. “It feels great to finally bring one home. This is what we’ve been after.”

Roper Putnam and Jack Story of the Clarks Hill High School Fishing Team placed second with 15-0, while Carter Cunningham and Landon Glander of the Dawson High Fishing Club finished third with 14-11.

Elijah Coleman and Will Dombroskas of Montgomery County High School won the $50 Big Bass award with their 8-3.

The event was hosted by Visit Columbia County, GA.

2024 Bassmaster High School Series Title Sponsor: Strike King

2024 Bassmaster High School Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota
2024 Bassmaster High School Series Premier Sponsors: Bass Pro Shops, Dakota Lithium, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Progressive Insurance, Ranger Boats, Rapala, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha
2024 Bassmaster High School Series Supporting Sponsors: AFTCO, Daiwa, Garmin, Lew's, Lowrance, Marathon, Triton Boats, TNT Fireworks, VMC

2024 Bassmaster High School Series Youth Sponsors: Seaguar, Shimano