An adjustment on the water earned two McIntosh High School seniors a national championship at Lake Murray, S.C. April 15. Dalton Anderson and Dawson Lenz, both of Peachtree City, won the FLW/TBF National Championship with 16-lbs., 12-ozs.
The two 18-year-olds beat out their closest competition by more than 8 pounds when the spawning blueback pattern everyone was keying on completely folded the morning of the tournament. Dalton said they had spent three days marking points with bluebacks and fish during practice.
“Our last day of practice, we had 20… 22 pounds of fish,” he said. “I mean we were pumped up.”
Everything deflated the morning of April 15. The two anglers spent the morning running their points and didn’t get a single bite.
With three large tournaments on the lake the days before and during the high school nationals, Dalton said there were a lot of anglers fishing the blueback pattern. He and Dawson thought the fish might have reacted to the pressure by moving off the points. They decided to try some wind-blown main-lake islands they had found a few fish on in practice.
“The wind was so key,” said Dalton. “It was creating a swirl on the backside of the island with the water.”
Dawson tied on a Lucky Craft jerkbait, Dalton chunked a Sebile Magic Swimmer, and they went to work on the suspended fish to catch their heavy sack. Of the four other teams they fished against, all winners of both state and regional tournaments, only one other limit was weighed. The Oregon team that took second had a five-fish sack of 8-lbs., 9-ozs.
Dalton and Dawson each won $5,000 college scholarships, and they were back at it the next week, fishing this year’s FLW/TBF State Championship at Sinclair the weekend of April 21. Dalton said they hope to do it all over again, but first they’ll have to qualify by winning the state and regional tournaments.