Looking to land the big fish… Local students qualify for National and World fishing tournament

Published 11:56 pm Monday, November 8, 2021

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Two local students representing Elizabethton High School recently earned the opportunity to compete in the National and World Championship fishing tournament for high school students.

Elizabethton High School’s Zeb Roberts and Unaka High School’s Jacob Oliver fishing under the Elizabethton High School fishing club finished in second place in the Major League Fishing U.S. Army High School fishing tournament.

There were 109 boats that competed in the tournament which was held on Chickamauga Lake near Chattanooga. Roberts and Oliver finished with a total of 10 pounds and six ounces – 2.6 pounds behind the first-place team that caught a total of 13 pounds and two ounces.

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According to Roberts, high school fishermen came from as far as Texas, Arkansas, and New Mexico to compete in the MLF tournament in Chattanooga.

“It was our first time fishing the tournament,” said Roberts. “We fished mainly swimbaits that resemble small fish. When we found out we had come in second place, we were pretty excited and I am pretty sure my buddy cried a little bit.”

Roberts was asked what the key was to fishing a tournament that carried the pressure as this one did.

“Really it’s to catch as many as you can and as big as you can,” he said. “If you can catch five big ones, you are pretty much golden.”

Before fishing a tournament, the team normally goes a day or two early to check out the layout of the lake and try to zero in on the spots they want to fish once the tournament gets underway.

The team will be participating in the Nationals and World Tournament at Pickwick Lake which runs 50 miles from Wilson Dam in Florence, Alabama to Pickwick Dam in Tennessee.

Roberts began fishing in his freshman year and now is in his senior year at Elizabethton. He shared that he hopes that fishing in high school will hopefully lead to the opportunity to fish collegiate even though there hasn’t been anything set in stone.

Dan McClaskey is the boat captain that donates his boat when the pair are fishing in a tournament.