What started as a small tournament in 2007 has now grown to one of the biggest student-angler events in the country. The 12th Annual High School Fishing World Finals & National Championship kicks off on Lake Hartwell, South Carolina, on June 30. There will be over $3 million in college scholarships handed out at the event, and The Bass Federation (TBF) expects roughly 400 registered boats to compete.
As the event continues to get bigger every year, TBF President Robert Cartlidge believes Lake Hartwell was the perfect choice to host the 2021 event.
“Lake Hartwell is going to be a great venue for us,” Cartlidge said. “It’s one of the best tournament venues in the country and (local facilities managers) have been working to make it better over the past few months. They’re building us an amphitheater and other amenities to make this year’s event the best one yet.”
Student anglers who won their SAF State Championship or an MLF U.S. Army High School Fishing Open automatically qualified for the National Championship. However, only one team can win the National Championship and walk away with a $10,000 scholarship. The World Finals pool consists of any SAF member from anywhere in the world who registers through TBF.
Here’s how the schedule breaks down at the 2021 World Finals and National Championship:
During the first two days of competition, all competitors will fish on Lake Hartwell. The weights of the teams in the running for the National Championship are kept separately. At the end of Day 2, the top two anglers from each state in the World Finals pool advance to the HSFWF Semi-Finals, while the remaining anglers head to the Second Chance round. The top 10 anglers in the National Championship standings advance to the National Championship Semi-Finals on Day 3.
On Day 3 of competition, the World Finals pool battles for a spot in the Top 20 as their weights reset back to zero. The top 20 move on to Saturday’s finals.
As for the High School National Championship, Day 3 is the final day of the event. The team with the highest three-day total weight wins the $10,000 scholarship. All 10 finalists from the National Championship advance to the World Finals Day 4.
For the final day, all weights start back at zero. While there can only be one winner, there are still plenty of opportunities for each team to return home with a reward: More than $3 million in scholarships, electronics, prizes and fishing gear will be handed out at the conclusion of the event.
“It really is a great event for the kids, and I’m looking forward to seeing it come together again this year,” Cartlidge said. “These kids work hard to get better at this sport, and it’s really great to see their joy when they succeed.”
The unique format was developed with feedback from the parents and families over the last 12 years. In the competitive arena, there is just no way around travel for the anglers, industry staff and partners. It is expected in fishing and is no different than baseball, softball, cheer or dance team championships or any other high school sport. The two events are conducted together as a dual event to save travel, costs and vacation time for the families while giving youth from anywhere, any background or economic strata a chance to come and earn a life-changing educational opportunity.
The popular four-day High School Fishing World Finals and National Championship combined event format is a very unique structure where all anglers compete for three days in a format with a second chance round, much like any other double-elimination high school sport. It is designed to keep everyone competitive and in the game until the final day cut. For full details, check out HighSchoolFishing.org or dip into this handy flow chart. All TBF, SAF and MLF High School Fishing events are no entry fee events. To register, anglers only need to be a member of the Student Angler Federation (SAF) which is a mere $25 per year and includes competitor SAF and MLF memberships. It is as easy as completing the online registration at HighSchoolFishing.org.
“We are very proud to be working with the TBF/SAF and hosting the World Finals and National Championship at Green Pond Landing, Lake Hartwell and Anderson County,” stated Neil Paul of Visit Anderson. “The future in bass fishing is our high school anglers and we look forward to hosting the anglers and their families in our community. Our team at Anderson County has worked extremely hard to ensure that we continue to be a destination for bass fishing. Green Pond Landing, a nationally recognized facility, and Lake Hartwell, a Top 100 Bass Lake in America, will once again provide our guests with a championship experience!”
Few places can accommodate 400 or more teams on the water for a week, but Lake Hartwell and Green Pond Landing can do it easily. So, June 30-July 3, 2021 will find the championship anglers on the massive border waters between South Carolina and Georgia and weighing-in at Green Pond Landing each day starting at 1:30 p.m. ET. The event is free to attend and open to the public. The event is also being filmed for the Pursuit Channel and other networks. Live coverage and leaderboards will run each day on www.HighSchoolFishing.org and Facebook at www.facebook.com/hsfishing.