The Livingston Parish High School fishing duo of Alex Heintze and Justin Watts started the recent Costa Bassmaster High School championship tournament on Kentucky Lake, in Parish, Tennessee, with a plan.
The two teens put together a rock-solid pattern during the July 22-25 tournament that alternated between a tube jig and topwater frog. Their arsenal consisted of a black Spro Dean Rojas Signature Series Bronzeye Frog and a Strike King tube jig rigged Texas-style with a 1/4-ounce weight and 4/0 Trokar hook. They added a Missile “D” Bomb on the third day when the sun came out to put together three consecutive 20-pound catches (20-10, 23-14 and 22-2) that totaled 66 pounds.
Kentucky Lake is famous for its ledge fishing, so keeping up with the norm, Heintze, 15, a Live Oak High sophomore, and Watts, 16, a Denham Springs High junior, headed out to the deep water to find the giant schools of big largemouth bass that the lake is known for.
“The first two days of practice we went out to fish the ledges in deep water like the lake is known for and we struggled to catch a bass,” Heintze said.
It took the team two days to catch a five-bass limit, so Heintze and Watts figured a change was needed.
“We spent two days idling around looking for schools of fish on the ledges, but that didn’t work out,” Watts said. “Nobody was talking about catching anything out on the ledges, not even the locals.”
Heintze and Watts made a decision on the third morning of practice that would change their destiny. They decided to turn to the familiar fishing routine they used back home.
“We went to the back of a cove about five minutes from the launch, and on the first few flips, we caught a couple of bass so we went around looking for other spots that looked the same, and that’s how we found our fish,” Watts said. “We actually caught 26 or 28 pounds before noon that day.”
The boys were pretty excited about their chances at a win as they were eating lunch on that third day of practice and didn’t even fish anymore for the rest of the day.
Day one started off just like practice ended. Heintze and Watts used the one-two punch of the frog and tube to catch their limit by 9:30 a.m. and leave the area to save some fish for the next day. Those five fish averaged over 4 pounds resulting in a catch weighing 20 pounds, 10 ounces and put them in the lead at the Costa Bassmaster High School National Championship presented by TNT Fireworks.
They ended the first day at the top of the leader board, but a team from Tuscaloosa County High School in Alabama finished the day just 10 ounces behind.
On day two, the topwater frog and the tube paid off again in a big way. After two days of fishing, the Livingston Parish Bassmasters team had a total weight of 43 pounds, 14 ounces. They went into day three with a 10-pound lead.
The winning continued on day three.
“Man, we caught our fifth fish before 7:30 a.m. and they weighed around 17 pounds and we knew then we’d won it,” said Heintze. “But we continued to cull and got the rest of our weight.”
The trio of baits secured the win by adding another 20-plus-pound stringer (22-2) to put the icing on the cake and a 66-pound total for three days for a whopping 14-1 victory.
Greg Hackney, Elite series angler and 2014 Angler of the Year for BASS, weighed in on the wire-to-wire victory.
“Man, this was the perfect storm,” Hackney said. “With all the rain and water in the trees and bushes made it a scenario that set up for the way we roll here in south Louisiana. Both teams did a very good job. They have my congratulations.”
Along with the scholarship opportunities comes a qualification invitation to fish the Bassmaster Classic High School Championship next March in Oklahoma.