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WATCH | Lakeside Anglers win state championship

by Bryan Rice | May 17, 2023 at 4:04 a.m.
From left, Lakeside Anglers Cash Hurst, a freshman, Kaleb Snow, a junior, and Griffin Ralph, a sophomore, are shown with head fishing coach Christy Culbreath Tuesday in the Lakeside High School Library. - Photo by Donald Cross of The Sentinel-Record

Lakeside's Anglers are the 2023 Arkansas High School State Champions after winning the 2023 Arkansas Youth BASS Nation State Championship Sunday on Lake Millwood.

Coach Christy Culbreath created the program five years ago.

"It is overwhelming," Culbreath said. "I have been on a high for the last couple of days. It is almost exhausting because of the excitement that has been buzzing. I have had my phone blow up and everybody is just congratulating. All of the faculty here has just sent out emails congratulating, they are so proud of each one of them. Whether they are state champions or not I am still proud of them."

Capturing the state title was the team of junior Kaleb Snow and sophomore Griffin Ralph.

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"There were 109 boats altogether," Culbreath said. "We had nine boats in the tournament. I think we are probably the largest school in the state that has this many teams. Not to boast but we are pretty known. We have had a lot of people say, 'Man those Lakeside Anglers can sure fish.' Yes, they sure can."

"Going into it obviously we wanted to win," Snow said. "We wanted it bad. On our practice day it was a little rough, but we found some fish in one area about 25 miles from the boat ramp. After we caught a few we got out of there and we banked our whole tournament going up there."

The Trader Bills state championship is tied into the state championship, as well.

"It is basically two-in-one if you have fished two of the Trader Bills Tournaments," Snow said. "For the whole state tournament, we won $2,500, eight rods, two reels and four trophies. For the Trader Bills state championship, we won an extra $400."

"Snow and Ralph received team of the year," Culbreath said.

"First day we went in there and caught them pretty good," Snow said. "We lost a couple key fish that would have definitely helped us. We looked at each other and said, 'We have a shot at this thing and let's go win it tomorrow.' After the weigh-in first day, we were in second place only about 0.75 pounds out from winning it. I said, 'Let's go back to the camper and rig up and we are going to win this thing tomorrow.'"

"The next day," Snow said, "we said, 'Let's go run up the same spot 25 miles up the river.' They were there and we just made it happen."

"We threw a junebug worm," Ralph said, "just a junebug sink-o, spinner bait with a white trailer, swim jig with a white crawl and a frog."

The state tournament combined all fishing trails in the state to converge on Lake Millwood and the surrounding waterways. Snow and Ralph found success on the Little River.

Lakeside Anglers fish the Central and Southern trails for more qualifying opportunities for state.

"State is where they come in from each division of the bass," Culbreath said. "Each team that has fished two or more tournaments in each division can qualify to fish in the state tournament."

"The Central is Trader Bills," Ralph said. "Southern is Arkansas Youth BASS Nation and we fish Hamilton, DeGray, Ouachita, Millwood and Greeson. We have fished Greeson a few times. We do not go too far past Millwood. Lake Hamilton is the closest lake."

Fishing competitions have been met with adversity in recent years with illegal weights and fishing spot information being disclosed. Snow took a lie-detector test for his team to ensure the honesty of their fishing haul.

"No weights," Culbreath joked, "we do not do weights."

"The lie detector test," Ralph said, "they ask you a few questions. There are a set of rules to make sure you do not receive any information and make sure you are in the right limits. When they ask you these questions they hook stuff up to you that can feel your heartbeat and what your mind is thinking. Obviously, Snow did not lie so, we were good."

Freshman Cash Hurst won big bass in the state tournament weighing in at 7.625 pounds inching out Snow who snagged a 7.5-pounder on Day One, as well.

One Day One Snow snagged a slob, "we caught a giant at 7.5 pounds," Snow said.

"For winning big bass," Hurst said, "I got $300, a reel and a trophy."

"It felt really good," Hurst said. "It was crazy. I could not believe it. I caught it on a frog. I was fishing it in a big lily pad field and I was seeing him break. I was throwing it at him and that is how I caught him."

"Obviously I wanted to win big bass," Snow joked, "but I could not ask for it to be anybody else. I would rather it be Hurst than anybody else out there."

Up next for the Angling Rams is a shot at the national championship at the Bassmaster High School National Championship in South Carolina on Lake Hartwell on July 29.

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