Zach Hingson and Tyler Benedict had only fished Lake Springfield one time prior to Sunday’s Costa Bassmaster High School Midwestern Open presented by TNT Fireworks.
So when they had a good five-fish limit just 35 minutes after takeoff, they were thrilled.
Maybe a little too thrilled.
With the anglers losing focus in all of the excitement, their boat captain Alan Hingson called one of the eight timeouts allotted by B.A.S.S. rules to calm them down. From there, the team members from Illinois’ Arthur Levington Atwood Hammond High School culled their way up to 18 pounds, 8 ounces and walked away with the victory.
Dailus Richardson and Trevor McKinney of Benton High School in Illinois placed second with 14-11 on a day when wind gusts reached 32 miles per hour.
“When they had a limit in just 35 or 40 minutes, I think they were shell-shocked a little bit,” Alan Hingson said. “They were almost wrapping fish up in the trolling motor and just going crazy. I called timeout and told them to put their rods down for a minute to settle down.”
Just a few minutes after the timeout, Hingson and Benedict caught one of their largest fish, a largemouth that weighed 4-2. Their bag also included a 5-2 that tied Richardson and McKinney for big fish of the tournament.
Hingson and Benedict said it was one of those days when everything just seemed to work right.
“It didn’t seem to matter what we used,” Zach Hingson said. “We caught them on a little bit of everything.”
Benedict listed a long line of baits that produced fish.
“Crankbaits, Chatterbaits, Carolina rigs, beavers — a little bit of everything,” he said. “We caught fish on everything we threw.”
All three participants had a feeling a win was meant to be when Benedict made his first cast with a Carolina Rig.
His reel backlashed, and the bait only traveled about 20 feet. But when he cleared the backlash and lifted his rod tip, he had a fish on his line.
“That’s when I knew somebody was looking out for us,” Benedict said. “That’s the kind of good luck we had today.”
The team’s catch of 18-8 was three pounds heavier than the winning weight of a tournament filled with adult anglers on Lake Springfield Saturday. It was enough to help them easily past a solid field that brought plenty of fish to the scales.
Of the 34 boats in the event, 33 weighed in at least one fish. The Top 10 teams all had at least 10-3, and the Top 5 had 12-9 or better.
Richardson and McKinney came in a distant second with 14-11. They said their catch, which was anchored by a 5-2 largemouth, came mostly by way of flipping a beaver.
Luke Jasper and Tommy Rimbo of Illinois’ Lemont High School placed third with 13-9. They used jigs and Texas rigged plastics to catch their fish.
The Top 3 teams earned berths into the Costa Bassmaster High School National Championship presented by TNT Fireworks. The tournament is scheduled for July 22-25 on Kentucky Lake in Paris, Tenn.
“I’ve never been to Kentucky Lake,” Zach Hingson said. “But I’m looking forward to see it. I can’t wait to get there.”
At every event on this year’s Costa Bassmaster High School Series, an act of courage, courtesy or sportsmanship is recognized as the “Costa Moment.” The honor for this event went to Anthony Fazio and Grant Olsen of Illinois’ Minooka Anglers Club for towing fellow tournament anglers Sean Cook and Tommy Zobel of Joliet Central High School back to the weigh-in site.
“We ran out of juice,” Zobel said. “Our trolling motor battery and our cranking battery were both dead, and they took their last 20 minutes of fishing time to bring us in. It was pretty cool of them.”