KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Two Sevier County students recovered from a slow start to now taking the lead on Day 1 of the Abu Garcia Bassmaster High School National Championship on Lake Hartwell in Anderson, S.C.

Ty Trentham and Chase McCarter are competing in the Bassmaster High School National Championship. They both hold a 2-ounce lead against Livingston Parish High School anglers Destin Morales and Samuel Cobb Jr.

“It was consistent all day,” Trentham said. “They bit a little better in the morning, but it was a grind really. We didn’t fish the cleanest. We missed a few and lost a few. We were kind of down at first, but after we caught a few good ones it got us up.”

The East Tennessee natives said the diverse fisheries in their home region prepared them well.

“Tennessee has a lot of different types of lakes,” McCarter said. “You have the Tennessee River, you have highland reservoirs, smallmouth, spotted bass — all of it.”

The morning got off to a frustrating start, but Trentham and McCarter completed their limit around lunchtime before making several key culls.

During practice, Trentham and McCarter got bites but weren’t sure what they had in their area. They landed the majority of their bag in one main stretch while a different section produced a big bite.

They rotated through several baits, and McCarter acknowledged the bite they have going is a “home run” type of pattern.

“You’ve got to hope for the best,” he said. “We just tried to get another bite. We would go back through our area and we might leave if we think it (isn’t working). We were just experimenting in one of the areas where we caught a big one, and we may have to experiment more tomorrow. You can’t make a mistake when we are getting as many bites as we are getting.”

On the other team, Morales and Cobb Jr. weren’t sure what to expect. They caught a 17-13 on Day 1 and landed a 7-8 behemoth largemouth to take the lead for Big Bass of the Tournament.

“We didn’t expect there to be any fish that big in here,” Cobb Jr. said. “Much less me catching it. I was really excited, and I was shaking for a while afterward.”

Morales and Cobb Jr. brought in all largemouth, but they reported catching several spotted bass as well. 

“I was like a kid in the candy shop,” Morales added. “It jumped and it looked like a whole dolphin coming out of the water.”

Morales described their strategy as “junk fishing,” and they have a milk run of about 12-15 areas.

Several different types of cover have been produced for them.

“First thing this morning it was slow, and then toward the middle of the day, it got better. It’s been like that all week,” Morales said. “I didn’t think we were going to do this well today. But then Samuel hooked that kicker and that helped us out a lot.”

Illinois anglers Hunter and Blake Beckmann from Breese Central High School landed in third with 16-3, all largemouth. After losing a big fish in the morning, they filled their limit around and anchored their bag with a 5-10 largemouth.

They used a rotation of baits, but one specific technique from their home of Lake Carlyle helped them get familiar with Lake Hartwell.

“Today went better than we expected,” Blake said. “Tuesday, we had roughly 12 pounds, and Wednesday we had about 9 pounds. Today we were blown (away). We didn’t think we had this much weight.”

The full field will launch from Green Pond Landing and Event Center at 6:20 a.m. ET on Day 2 and return for weigh-in beginning at 2:20 p.m. The Top 12 teams after Friday’s weigh-in will advance to Championship Saturday.