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Carnes, Denney win Bradley Roy Open

The Lincoln County High School bass fishing team of Will Carnes and Jason Denney won the 7th Annual Bradley Roy High School Open fishing tournament held recently on Lake Cumberland. The tournament hosted 200 teams from across the state, making it the largest high school event on record in Kentucky.

Bradley, a Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour professional angler, added a special twist to this year’s event. After the traditional weight-in on the first day of competition, Roy immediately gathered the top five teams and cut off all information gathering from other teams in the event. Those five teams then competed in an unknown part of Lake Cumberland, fishing a new format. Each team then brought their five biggest fish to the scales and the largest weight won. However, on the second day, they fished the MLF format where every fish was weighed by an official in the boat and immediately released. Every bass over 1 pound scored and each team knew exactly what the other teams’ weights were. At the end of the time limit, the team with the most weight won.

The teams met at the Pumpkin Creek boat ramp early the second day, with 30 minutes to scout the fishable water. At 7 a.m., teams had lines in and were off fishing. Bradley Roy and his team broadcast the action live on FaceBook for family, friends, and fishing fans to see.

Carnes and Denney were off to an early start with the first scorable fish of the tournament at 7:15. They extended their early lead with a second fish a few minutes later. Their lead didn’t last long, however, and they found themselves two pounds down at the mandatory break.

“Will and Jason stayed positive and encouraged each other during the break. They told each other they were just two bites away from re-taking the lead. They were confident on their pattern and spot they had found,” reported Stan Carnes, team boat captain. 

Shortly after fishing resumed, the Lincoln team caught the fish they needed to take the lead. 

“I encouraged them to keep fishing hard and try to extend their lead before the bite turned off mid-morning,” said Carnes. 

The team caught another fish that gave them a 1-pound lead. Carnes and Denney were still not comfortable, though, and thought they needed more weight. A key 1-pound, 3-ounce spotted bass fell victim to Denney’s crank bait in the last 30 minutes of competition, giving the Lincoln County team a 2-pound, 5-ounce lead. However, the other teams weren’t finished. Estill County’s team caught a 2-pound, 3-ounce fish in the last few minutes. When time ran out and the officials conferred, Carnes and Denney had won the tournament by just 2 ounces.

“Winning the Bradley Roy was a dream come true,” Jason Denney said. “I went into the tournament not expecting to win it at all but, with the grace of God, Will and I were able to pull it out.”

Carnes shared Denney’s sentiments

“The drama of knowing how close the weights were and how close we were to winning or losing made this the most exciting event that I have fished so far in my career,” he said. “I am thankful for Bradley and his team for adding this aspect of the tournament and look forward to competing again next year.”

The top team members were each offered $10,000 scholarships to attend Campbellsville University by head coach Pete Hedgepath. Significant scholarships for all teams were made possible by Covercraft, First Southern National Bank, The Cain Pole, A Few Good Men Fishing Tournament, LCR Contracting, City of Jamestown, Angler’s Outpost and Marine, and Land Big Fish.

The Lincoln County Bass Fishing Patriots were thankful to have such a wonderful event so close to home and were appreciative to Bradley Roy and all the sponsors for making it possible.

“Receiving the scholarship to Campbellsville University has opened my eyes to what opportunities are out there and will be life changing for me,” said Denney.

“I am also thankful to Coach Pete and Campbellsville University for offering us the scholarship,” said Carnes. “This is huge as I prepare for my future in fishing and career.”

Additional prizes from sponsors of the event and Bradley Roy included: Mud Hole Custom Tackle, Triton Boats, Gruv, Solar Bat, D&L Tackle, Cabin Creek, Seaguar, and Whitetail Heaven Outfitters.

“There are so many aspects of this event that stand out in my mind; the number of boats, the quality of anglers, the new venue Lake Cumberland, the addition of the catch, weigh, release day on Sunday, but the one that stands out the most is the addition of college scholarships,” said Bradley Roy. “Winning these Campbellsville University scholarships is a life-changing event for the winning team. The investment these sponsors made in providing scholarships for all of the top teams is a huge deal and I am so excited to look back in a few years and see how it helped these student anglers.”