November 27, 2021

Brave duo represents Heard County in fishing world finals

Heard High School fishermen Payton Caldwell (L) and Chris Carroll (C) with boat captain David Carroll finished in 40th place at the World Finals on Lake Pickwick (Photo: Michelle Carroll)

(Florence, AL) — Heard County High School’s fishing team competed at the TBF Student Angler Federation, Fishing League Worldwide’s 9th Annual High School Fishing World Finals June 26-30 on Pickwick Lake in Florence, Alabama.

Senior Chris Carroll and junior Payton Caldwell finished off the week with a strong Saturday performance to finish in 40th place out of 310 teams in the world finals.

The angling duo bounced back from a slow start on day one to earn 77th place in the nationals in a field of 232 teams.

The most prestigious high school fishing event in the country crushed records in attendance, number of contenders and participating states during the five-day event. 

Over $150,000 in scholarships and prizes were awarded with a total field consisting of 384 teams from 35 states. It was the fourth year the HSFWF has been hosted by the Florence-Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce on Pickwick Lake.

Despite a disappointing day one at the event, Caldwell caught the biggest fish of the week for the Brave team at 6 pounds 6 ounces. The excitement was non-stop with Chris even having to be pulled back in the boat by his father, boat captain David Carroll after stepping in the water when he landed a four plus pounder near the end of the tourney.

After fishing alone during the 2016-2017 season, Carroll was thankful to have Caldwell come aboard for this season.

“It was an absolute blessing to have Payton out there with us this year — that kid can sure fish.  It was unbelievable how well we all three got along and he was a major help for me — last year was tough when I was always out there by myself,” says Carroll.

Caldwell will be a new team leader for the Braves next season while Carroll will continue his fishing career after signing a scholarship with Brewton-Parker College in Mount Vernon, GA.

Carroll hopes that the Brave program will continue to grow in the future as he offers advice to those kids out there that may not have yet considered the less traditional sport of fishing.

“For kids thinking about doing this I would just say don’t be afraid to try new things. I was really scared of it when I first started — you will see many of the competitors that have so much more money than you have sometimes rolling up in $70,000 boats but you can’t let that get to you,” says Carroll. “No matter what boat you are in you just have to use what you have and rely on the knowledge you have and you will do great.”

Carroll, the first Brave to move on to the next level in fishing says the time spent in the boat alongside his dad these past few years has been priceless and the best part of his high school experience.

“It has been amazing to make so many memories with my dad — every dent and scratch on that boat has a story to it. To have him there with me to joke around with and teach me everything I know and tell me what I’m doing wrong has been such a blessing,” says Carroll.

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