DAYTON, Tenn. — Thanks to some late-day heroics, the Sin City Bass Club team of Carter Doren and Ryan Lachniet took the lead on Day 2 of the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School National Championship presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors at Chickamauga Lake, landing a three-fish limit of 11-2 to increase their two-day total to 26-3.
Brent Randall and Carson Falk from the Quincy High School Bassmasters hold second place with 24-14, while the Hanover County duo of Turner Hart and Nicholas Bradley are in third with 24-12.
“It’s absolutely incredible. I came to Kentucky Lake one time in 2019 and I zeroed,” Doren said. “It was absolutely awful; I remember it vividly. Coming back and having a great finish so far is incredible. I can’t wait to finish it out.”
Although they had their limit around midday, the Las Vegas natives fished the second half of the day with a sour taste in their mouths after Doren broke off a bass he knew would have helped a lot. Their fortunes changed about 20 minutes before check-in time, as Lachniet landed a bass he located on the Lowrance ActiveTarget unit.
“We were down a little bit. After losing that one big one we were feeling bad. But that fish definitely lifted the mood a lot,” Lachniet said.
Once Doren netted the bass and got it safely in the boat, they celebrated briefly before heading back for weigh-in.
“We were all screaming and hollering and jumping around,” Doren said. “You could probably hear us around the entire south end (of the lake).”
Much of the team’s success this week has been because of their forward-facing sonar.
“This is the first time I’ve used it. Ryan’s been using it a long time,” Doren said. “It’s been incredible. I’ve looked at fish I never knew were there, and we’ve caught fish we’ve never seen. It has helped us find our fish, it’s helped us pattern our fish, it’s helped us with everything this week.”
During the first two days, Doren and Lachniet have developed a milk run of about five productive spots, one of which has produced more than the others. Much like Thursday, Day 2 began slowly and Lachniet said they went three hours without a bite.
“We fished for about three hours and our first bite was a 4-pounder. We started catching them after that,” he said. “We caught about three or four in about an hour before he caught the 3-pounder. That’s what we had the rest of the day until about 20 minutes to go when we caught that big one.”
The slow starts can be somewhat attributed to the current moving through the lake, Lachniet added.
“I think that is kind of why we are catching them later in the day,” he said. “It’s slow in the morning, and I think it’s because they aren’t pulling water. Around 11 o’clock they seem to start biting.”
With 10 total fish during the day, Doren said it was the most they have caught in a day since they arrived for practice.
“We aren’t getting a lot of bites, but we are getting quality bites,” he said. “We would have been up there (with a higher total) but I broke off a fish that I think was pretty big.”
As they prepare for Saturday, Doren and Lachniet aren’t planning on making any changes, but know they need to fish clean if they want to hoist the trophies at the end.
“It is pretty exciting,” Lachniet said. “We are going to have to go out there tomorrow and catch them. No missing fish, no losing fish. Catch three big ones and get it done.”
Meanwhile, Randall and Falk caught 10-12 on Day 2 to jump from third to second heading into Championship Saturday. The duo got off to a fast start, catching 10 total fish and filling out their limit around their first spot.
“We started on a spot that I found in practice, but we were unsure how it was at daylight. We ran there this morning and it worked really well,” Randall said. “That’s what we are banking on tomorrow. There are a lot of good fish. I caught a 6-pounder there and one of the 5-pounders came from there yesterday. We feel like we can win the tournament right there.”
This particular spot is a grass flat located around the main-river channel, Randall said. So far this week, he hasn’t seen any other competitors around the area.
“I haven’t seen another boat on it, but there is a big local derby out here tomorrow, and it is Saturday on the TVA,” Randall said. “It’s kind of off the wall and not very obvious. It is a big area and, the way we are fishing, we could get right in a hurry.”
In his first attempt at a National Championship, Falk said he is excited to have a chance to win.
“We just have to keep it going for tomorrow,” he said. “It’s been a lot of early ups and a lot of going to sleep late trying to figure out what you are going to catch and where you are going to catch it. It’s been fun.”
After catching 9-3 on the first day, Hart and Bradley vaulted up the leaderboard with a 15-9 Day 2 bag that was anchored by an 8-7 largemouth, the biggest bass of the day. Unlike Doren and Lachniet, the Virginia anglers don’t have a unit on the bow of their boat, instead focusing on obvious targets in shallow water.
Day 2 got off to a slow start, but one laydown changed the outcome of their day for the better.
“We didn’t really have anything today until about 12 o’clock,” Hart said. “We pulled up to one blowdown and I caught that big one. After that, we got the ball rolling and caught two close to 4 pounds. That big one changed our vibe.”
After getting a lot of bites in their primary area, but no bigger bites, the duo switched things up and figured out how to get a better-than-average bite. A Zoom Magnum Finesse Worm has been their bait of choice along with a jig.
“Hopefully tomorrow we can spend more time in that area and whack them,” Hart said.
The Top 12 teams will compete on Championship Saturday. Anglers will take off from Dayton Boat Docks at 6:45 a.m. ET and return for weigh-in starting at 2:45 p.m. Weigh-in will be available to livestream on Bassmaster.com.
The Bassmaster High School Series National Championship tournament is being hosted by the Rhea Economic & Tourism Council, Bryan College and Fish Dayton.