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JHS anglers qualify for nationals

A pair of anglers from Jemison High School look to leave their mark at the Costa Bassmaster High School Nationals in Paris, Tenn. on June 22-24.

Blake Davenport and Wesley Gore qualified for the national competition for the second straight year. Davenport will be a senior at Jemison next year, while Gore will be a junior.

They have been fishing together for the past five years and have developed into quite the competitive team throughout that time.

“There’s no doubt that we have come a long way in five years,” Davenport said. “There’s a diversity of fishing in Alabama. You can just learn so much fishing these lakes.”

The pair punched their ticket to nationals after finishing top three in the Angler of the Year point standings for the Airport Marine High School Trail.

Points were determined by competing in tournaments at various lakes throughout the state. The season runs from February to June.

The team has finished in the top 10 in all but one tournament this season and did so despite some bumps in the road, as Gore recovered from ACL surgery.

“We were the most consistent,” Gore said. “Once it starts, it’s an ongoing thing. You go from one tournament to practicing for another.”

Balancing schoolwork is something that every athlete encounters and that is no different for Davenport and Gore.

According to Gore, the key is to plan ahead and have your work done prior to the weekend, because tournaments take up a large portion of the time.

Nationals will be held on Kentucky Lake in Paris, Tenn., which is the same location that the event was held at a year ago.

Kentucky Lake’s size presents certain challenges that each fisherman in the tournament will have to deal with.

Wind can pick up and cause three- to six-foot swells, which according to Gore can be difficult to maneuver in a bass boat.

“That’s a mega lake,” Gore said.

Their first experience on the big stage was a fairly successful one, as they held their own and finished 17th out of 175 participants.

The 17th place finish proved that the tandem belongs on the national stage and has them hungry for even more this time around, as they have their goal set on making the final round (top 12) and bringing home a title.

Fishing differs from others sports in that nature plays a vital and ever-changing role.

There are several factors that go into catching the “big one,” such as water temperature and barometric pressure.

“You’re not as much competing against the other fishermen as you are with the fish,” Davenport said.

As Gore and Davenport prepare for their return trip, there is a certain sense of familiarity going into this year’s tournament.

“We went up their blindfolded not really knowing, and just did what we needed to do,” Gore said. “There’s no doubt that we have a better idea.”