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.

Camerons Protect An Additional 30 Acres Of Farmland At Harrison

MGHC Celebrates 25 Years Of Education And Service With Online Public Gardening Class

Tennessee State Parks Have $1.84 Billion Economic Impact In 2020


On the last day of 2020, the Tennessee Land Trust closed its 14th conservation project of the year, protecting 30 acres of forestland in Harrison in Hamilton County with landowners Kendra and ... (click for more)

The Master Gardeners of Hamilton County, in association with the University of Tennessee Extension, continue their third Saturday free public gardening classes in 2021. Presented online via ... (click for more)

Tennessee State Parks had an economic impact of $1.84 billion in Tennessee in 2020 and welcomed 34.7 million visits, according to a report done for the Tennessee Department of Environment and ... (click for more)



Outdoors

Camerons Protect An Additional 30 Acres Of Farmland At Harrison

On the last day of 2020, the Tennessee Land Trust closed its 14th conservation project of the year, protecting 30 acres of forestland in Harrison in Hamilton County with landowners Kendra and Alan Cameron. This is the second conservation easement the trust has completed with the Cameron family and another conservation success for Hamilton County, officials said. Last January, ... (click for more)

MGHC Celebrates 25 Years Of Education And Service With Online Public Gardening Class

The Master Gardeners of Hamilton County, in association with the University of Tennessee Extension, continue their third Saturday free public gardening classes in 2021. Presented online via Zoom during the pandemic, the first class takes place this Saturday at 10 a.m., with “IkebanaMoribana: The Art of Japanese Flower Arranging” presented by Master Gardener Janet Jobe. The ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Lee Tells General Assembly "It's Time To Intervene For Our Kids

Saying the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major disruptions for schools, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee told members of the General Assembly, "It's time to intervene for our kids." The governor spoke at the opening of a joint convention on education that he called. His remarks as prepared for delivery are: Thank you Lt. Governor McNally and Speaker Sexton, Speaker Pro-Tem ... (click for more)

2 Men, 21, 40, Shot In Separate Incidents Monday Evening

Two men were shot in separate incidents on Monday evening and showed up at a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries. At approximately 8:41 p.m. Monday, Chattanooga Police were dispatched on a report of shots fired in the area of Olive Street and Roanoke Avenue. While en route, officers were advised that a 40-year-old man had arrived at a local hospital by private vehicle ... (click for more)

Opinion

It's Time For Impact Fees

This letter is regarding the potential high density development on Snowhill Road in Ooltewah. Growth is good. But it needs to be responsible growth. It would be instructive to see studies by other communities who have already gone through this so we can understand just what is the taxpayer cost burden of these high density developments. Additional taxes to add infrastructure, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: We Ramp Up

As you know, federal and state employees will honor Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday today (Monday) so it will be tomorrow (Tuesday) when the vaccination efforts to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus in Hamilton County will really begin to ramp up. This week will also mark the start of “Round Two” for our First Responders, our medical providers, and others who were given their ... (click for more)