By Rubin E. Grant
Tucker Smith changed fishing buddies, but he didn’t change fortunes.
With his former fishing partner Grayson Morris now on the bass fishing team at Montevallo, Smith teamed with fellow Briarwood Christian mate Hayden Marbut to win the 2020 Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School National Championship presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors.
The tournament was held Oct. 22-24 on Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley in Paris, Tennessee.
Smith and Marbut had a three-day total of 47 pounds, 5 ounces, securing their title by landing two smallmouth bass for 7 pounds, 14 ounces under windy conditions on the final day.
The National Championship is the third consecutive title for Smith, who won his previous titles with Morris in August. It’s the first for Marbut.
“I’m just blown away,” Smith said. “I didn’t expect to win it twice and especially not three years in a row.
“I’m blessed to do it again, especially in October. It started out super hot to where your glasses were fogged up from sweat to being so cold you wished you were at home. The last day it was in the 30s with 20 mph winds, while the first two days were in the 60s and 70s.”
Marbut was overjoyed to claim his first title.
“It was crazy,” Marbut said. “It’s really an accomplishment. All our hard work and time and effort we put into it paid off. It doesn’t seem real.”
Smith and Marbut earned $5,000 in scholarship money and another $200 for the big bass of the tournament, a 7-5 lunker caught on Day 1.
The Day 1 bag earned Smith and Marbut an $875 scholarship from the family of Hunter Owens in memory of Owens, who finished in the Top 12 of the Bassmaster High School National Championship two years ago before dying in a car accident.
Smith is attending Auburn this fall, while Marbut is finishing his senior year in high school by taking online classes at night so he can fish during the day.
A week after their triumph, Smith and Marbut went fishing at Lake Eufaula.
“I love fishing,” Smith said. “I can’t remember when I started because it’s been so long.”