Wallace, a junior at Russellville High School, refused to become discouraged when the bites were few and far between for anglers competing in the Tim Horton High School Bass Anglers Challenge on Pickwick Lake April 15. His persistence paid off and he won the senior division of the tournament that attracted student anglers from three states. The tournament was staged out of Riverfront Park.
Wallace was able to catch only two fish, but both were giants and his catch weighed 10.5 pounds. Andrew Chambers of Phillips High School in Bear Creek finished second in the senior division with 9.89 pounds. Levi Lamar of Hartselle High finished third with 8.39 pounds, Clayton Birdyshaw of Rogers High was third with 7.99 pounds with Briana Tucker of Hartselle rounding out the top five with 6.82 pounds.
“We had caught a lot of fish during practice on Friday and I thought we were really going to whack them in the tournament,” Wallace said. “But the fishing started out slow and got even slower during the tournament. I really didn’t think I would have a chance to win, but I never let it get me down. I kept fishing hard right up to the end.”
His catch was anchored by a largemouth bass that weighed 6.81 pounds, which was the largest fish weighed in by a senior division angler.
For winning the senior division, Wallace won a $3,000 scholarship to the college, university or technical school of his choice. He also won a $1,500 scholarship to Northwest-Shoals Community College for being the top angler in the senior division from Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale or Lawrence counties. He won a $450 rod and reel for catching the largest bass in the senior division.
Matthew Chambers of Phillips High won the junior division with a 4.21 pounds catch. Laurel Fogle of Covenant Christian School in Muscle Shoals finished second with 3.63 pounds. Rounding out the top five in the junior division were J.O. Morgan of Phil Campbell with 3.15 pounds, Hunter Estis of Muscle Shoals with 2.57 pounds and Jackson Ferguson of Rogers with 2.11 pounds. Estis had big fish with 2.57 pounds.
Chambers was elated with the $3,000 scholarship he won for being the top angler in the junior division for students in grades 7-9. His brother Andrew won a $2,000 scholarship for finishing second in the senior division for students in grades 10-12. “This is going to help us a lot when we go to college,” Matthew Chambers said.
Since it began five years ago, the annual bass tournament that is organized by Colbert County Tourism and Convention Bureau, has awarded $100,000 in college scholarships. Susann Hamlin, president and CEO of Colbert Tourism, enjoys being a part of a tournament that helps students continue their education. “We have students tell us every year that they will now be able to go to college because they won one of our scholarships.”
Horton, a professional angler and outdoors television personality from Muscle Shoals, said he looks forward to the high school tournament every year. “For a kid who loves to fish, it’s a great way for them to help pay for their tuition,”
The students fish from boats piloted by an adult.