19-Year-Old Tennessean Wins Nickajack Shootout

Friday, June 13, 2014
Skylar Hamilton
Skylar Hamilton
Fred Fletcher takes the oath of office as the new chief of the Chattanooga Police Department in a ceremony on ThuIn the famed movie Groundhog Day, Bill Murray’s character was given a second chance — over and over and over again.
 
Skylar Hamilton was perfectly satisfied Friday to get just one second chance. After all, one was all he needed to stay in the Bassmaster BASSfest game for $125,000 and an instant-in to the 2015 world championship of bass fishing, the Bassmaster Classic.
 
With a Nickajack Lake catch of 25 pounds, 13 ounces — including a 9-15 kicker largemouth — the 19-year-old angler from Dandridge, Tenn.
, topped the list of the 10 competitors who won the right on Friday to advance to Saturday’s round of BASSfest competition on Chickamauga Lake.
           
The icing on Mr. Hamilton’s cake: He had the best day of his life as an angler.
 
“Today was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I’m not that old, but I’ve fished a lot — most of my life,” said Mr. Hamilton, who said he began competing at age 12.
 
Besides Mr. Hamilton, the best at Nickajack were: Mike Kernan of Wylie, Texas, second place with 17-15; Charley Hartley of Grove City, Ohio, third with 16-13; Kotaro Kiriyama of Moody, Ala., fourth with 16-4; David Mullins of Mount Carmel, Tenn., fifth with 15-14; Tracy Adams of Wilkesboro, N.C., sixth with 15-9; Brock Mosley of Collinsville, Miss., seventh with 15-7; Steve Kennedy of Auburn, Ala., eighth with 15-7 after a tie-breaker was applied; Matt Reed of Madisonville, Texas, ninth with 14-15; and Mike McClelland of Bella Vista, Ark., tenth with 13-12.
 
Eighty anglers fell out of the competition. The 10 Nickajack winners will pick up their Chickamauga weight total from the first two days when they join the 50 pros who qualified for the semi-finals through the Wednesday and Thursday rounds on Chickamauga Lake.
 
Mr. Hamilton, fishing Nickajack for the first time despite living nearby in Dandridge, said he began his day by running to the Chickamauga Dam. So crowded with other competitors, Mr. Hamilton turned around and went looking.
 
He stopped at a ledge just outside a creek mouth, where he saw bass breaking the surface, feeding. He threw a football jig and hooked into his first bass, about a 2-pounder.
 
Then he noticed a mudline where the creek met the main river. His first cast over the mudline yielded a 6-pounder. His next cast brought back a 4-pounder. On the third cast, the 9-15 was on the hook. It was the largest bass he’d ever caught.
 
Later he landed a 12-inch spotted bass to complete his limit.
 
“I really needed to get rid of it, but couldn’t until about 12 o’clock or so. I finally did with one of about 4 pounds,” he said.
 
His “mudline” lure setup was a 10-inch plum Berkley Power Worm with a 3/8-ounce Tungsten weight. His hook was a Gamakatsu 5/0 straight-shank model.
 
That one spot held winning bass because of the big forage, highly attractive to recent postspawn largemouth, he said.
 
“That cold water creates a lot of oxygen for shad. A lot of bigger fish trying to feed up after the spawn were after those shad. I saw shad there as big as 12 inches,” he said.
 
Mr. Hamilton was, perhaps, more excited about landing the largest bass of his life than he was about besting 90 other anglers.
 
“I feel amazing,” he said. “And I’m happy to make it back to Chickamauga.”
 
Mr. Kernan started his day by flipping to manmade river structures. A bust, he went to the dam. There he caught eight keepers. His best was a 5-pounder.
 
Even though he’ll begin the next leg of the tournament in 52nd place, his weight from the first two days of 22-11, plus a really good day’s weight, possibly could jump him into the Top 12, he said.
 
“Chickamauga has proved it can produce some giant sacks,” Mr. Kernan said.
 
Mr. Hartley, after beating the bank, gave up on that tactic when it produced only three small bass.
 
“At about 11 o’clock, I said, ‘If you don’t even go out there and try, you won’t have a chance,’” he said. He turned to the strolling technique, something he said isn’t one of his strengths. He lost two fish on the first and second passes over a shoal.
 
On the third try, he hooked into a 4/5 double on his crankbait.
 
“They tried to jump, but they couldn’t,” he laughed. “They were pulling against each other.”
 
Mr. Hartley landed them both. With another 4-pounder, and a few bass, he was on his way to claiming his second chance. His final weight was 16-13.
 
Mr. Hamilton’s 9-15 was the largest bass weighed in from Nickajack. But, for his 10-11 on Day 2 on Chickamauga Lake, Elite pro Hank Cherry of Maiden, N.C., remained the top contender for BASSfest’s Carhartt Big Bass award of up to $1,500.
 
Part competition, part festival, BASSfest is a new and unique event. The competition began with 107 pros of the Bassmaster Elite Series plus 33 anglers from the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens presented by Allstate circuit. After two days on Chickamauga Lake, the Top 50 stayed on shore to meet fans while the remaining 90 anglers moved to Nickajack for Friday’s shootout. The Top 10 from the shootout qualified to rejoin the Top 50 for Saturday’s semi-final round on Chickamauga.
 
The Top 12 after Saturday will move into the final round Sunday on Chickamauga to compete for a first-place prize of $125,000 and a berth in the 2015 Bassmaster Classic.
 
The 60 semi-finalists will take off from Dayton’s Point Park at 7 a.m. Saturday. They’ll weigh their catches at the park beginning at 4 p.m. Sunday’s takeoff and weigh-ins also will be at 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. All times are Eastern.
 
There’s no admission charge for any BASSfest event.
 
The local host of the event is the City of Dayton.
 
The Bassmasters on ESPN2 will present coverage of BASSfest in four hours of programming beginning June 29 at 8-9 a.m. ET. The next two hours will air July 6, 6-8 a.m. ET, including the finale. It will reair July 13 at 7-8 a.m. ET.

2014 Bassmaster Elite Series Official Sponsors: Toyota, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Evan Williams Bourbon, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Yamaha
 
2014 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: Booyah, Carhartt, Diet Mountain Dew, Livingston Lures, Lowrance, Plano, Power-Pole, Rigid Industries, Shimanorsday at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Auditorium. City Judge Russell Bean administered the oath.

Outdoor Chattanooga News And Events

Here are upcoming events and news from Outdoor Chattanooga: Outdoor Chattanooga Featured Event *Downtown Kayak Adventure  July 25 Join Outdoor Chattanooga for a beginner friendly  kayak tour of downtown Chattanooga on the Tennessee River. Our guide staff will provide basic instruction, then lead a leisurely paddle from the north shore around ... (click for more)

3 Rivers Longbeards NWTF Chapter To Host Youth Event On Aug. 8 At TWRA Office In Morristown

Young people ages five to 17 and their parents or guardians are invited to enjoy a day of outdoor fun at the TWRA Region IV Office in Morristown on  Aug. 8,  from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Three Rivers Longbeards Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) will host the Allen Ricks Memorial JAKES Day event. Allen Ricks was the TWRA  Region IV Information ... (click for more)

Thousands Line Route For Funeral Procession Of Sailor Slain In Chattanooga Shooting; Wife Sings Song At Funeral She Was Singing When They Met

Thousands of people waving flags and signs again lined the streets and highways of Chattanooga for the second of two local funerals for military personnel slain by a gunman on July 16. And at the funeral service for Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Scott Smith, his wife, Angie, sang the song she was singing the first time they met. She said she was singing "You say it best when ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Man Who Declared He Was "An Innocent Man" On Child Pornography Charges Gets Conviction, 24-Year Sentence Overturned

The Federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed the conviction of a Chattanooga man who claimed at his trial and sentencing that he was wrongfully convicted by a jury of possession and distribution of child pornography. James Paul Lowe had been sentenced in May to serve 24 years in federal prison. After the sentencing, he had bid his family goodbye and told them to ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Strong

The hearts, minds and prayers of Tennesseans, and of the entire nation, have been turned toward Chattanooga this month.  We are sickened and saddened by the senseless tragedy, and we grieve for the families of the five service members who were killed, Gunnery Sgt. Thomas J. Sullivan, Sgt. Carson A. Holmquist, Lance Cpl. Squire “Skip” K. Wells, Staff Sgt. David A. Wyatt and ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Chanie's Puzzling Poem

Ronnie Joice was in a bar in north London when he spied a poem tacked to the wall. The more he studied it, the more it revealed and, suddenly, he was floored. I don’t need to tell you it has gone viral, cheering people up particularly in England, but it is fun to know it was written by an 11 th -grader at an all-girls school in New York. Chanie Gorkin first posted it on her page ... (click for more)