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Freeman, Callaham Finish Strong To Win 2015 High School Fishing World Finals
7/14/2015
Credit:
Student Angler Federation
Representing T.L. Hanna High School in their hometown of Anderson, Freeman and Callaham rocketed up the leaderboard with a 20-pound, 2-ounce 5-fish limit to top the hard-fishing field of 166 two-person teams from 22 states during the four-day competition, held July 8-11.

“It’s extremely satisfying,” said Freeman, 18. “This is a true blessing,” added Callaham, also 18. “I couldn’t ask for anything else.”

Freeman and Callaham earned over $20,000 in college scholarships, prizes and Cabela’s gift cards with their win $18,000 of that total was in college scholarships, $8,000 to any school of their choice as well as an additional $10,000 if they choose to attend Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee.15HSFWF-winners

Freeman currently plans to attend Clemson University, while Callaham will study at Tri-County Technical College this fall— and both plan to make fishing a big part of their futures.

Open to all students participating in the Student Angler Federation’s High School Fishing program, the World Finals is the largest open championship in the nation. The entire field competed head-to-head days one and two, after which the top two teams from each state advanced to square off in the semi-final round, where weights were zeroed all other teams battled in a consolation round.

The top 10 teams from the semi-finals and the next top 10 from both the semi-finals and consolation round moved forward to the finals on day four. In addition, a special last-chance drawing gave one lucky team a golden ticket to the finals.

Freeman and Callaham weighed five bass for 17 pounds, 12 ounces on day one, landing in 7th overall. A 15-pound, 8-ounce day two limit propelled them to the semi-finals with a 33-pound, 4-ounce total that was the sixth-highest weight. They qualified for the finals with a 15-pound, 9-ounce limit that put them in eighth overall.

In the final round, they turned in their best showing of the tournament with a 20-pound, 2-ounce limit anchored by a 7-pound, 5-ounce behemoth. Throughout the event, they weighed all largemouths, despite Pickwick’s propensity to produce nice-size smallmouths and spotted bass.

“After hitting it hard on day one, we managed our spots days two and three, and then swung for the fences in the finals,” said Freeman.

Their winning pattern focused on main-lake ledges primarily in 14 to 23 feet of water. “All but one of the ledges were on the river channel,” Freeman noted. Top presentations included deep-diving crankbaits, ½- to 5/8-ounce hair jigs, drop-shotting 6-inch worms and tipping shaky-head jigs with 10½-inch worms.

TBF National Youth Director Mark Gintert was ecstatic at the turnout and the destination. “We’re absolutely thrilled with the results of the 2015 World Finals and our new partner, Florence Lauderdale Tourism,” he said. “The facilities and volunteerism in Florence was terrific and we most definitely look forward to coming back again in the future.”

Designed to give young anglers and their families an all-encompassing, fun-filled experience, the World Finals also included a pizza party, a live music concert and catfish banquet—courtesy of the Alabama Cooperative Extension office and the Catfish Growers Association of Alabama—plus a multi-species fishing tournament on day four for all teams who did not make it into the finals.

The SAF’s High School Fishing program is open to students in grades 9-12. Sponsors include Ranger Boats, Cabela’s, Berkley, Evinrude, Lew’s, Lowrance Electronics, FLW Fishing League Worldwide, Booyah Bait Company, Mud Hole Custom Tackle and Shimano. For more information, visit highschoolfishing.org, email info@highschoolfishing.org, or call: (580) 765-9031.