Logan and Landon
Hughson High’s Dekleva, Mason come up short at national bass fishing event in South Carolina

June 27, 2024

A huge lake in an unfamiliar part of the country proved to be a challenge for fishing champions Logan DeKleva and Landon Mason.

The Hughson High buddies were named California Student Anglers of the Year earlier this spring, which earned them a spot in the 15th annual High School Fishing National Championship tournament June 19-22 at Lake Hartwell in Anderson, S.C.

It was the second year in a row for DeKleva and Mason to qualify for the national tournament. In 2023, they finished 41st out of 400 teams who competed in La Crosse, Wisc.

Unfortunately, their experience was less successful this time around. They never found the sweet spot on the enormous lake, which straddles the border of South Carolina and Georgia. They ended up 248th out of 437 teams.

“We swung for the fences and struck out,” said DeKleva. “We went for the big fish.”

The size of the lake and a limited amount of time to pre-fish it proved too much for the pair, who will be juniors at Hughson High this fall.

“The lake is three times bigger than the biggest lake in California, which is Shasta,” DeKleva said. “They gave us 2½ days to figure it out. It was hard to find fish.”

The biggest bass they landed on the first two days of competition was just under 2 pounds – not nearly big enough. Teams are ranked on the total weight of their three largest fish.

“The top 10 teams were all from South Carolina and Georgia -- except for one from Pennsylvania – and they all had local knowledge of the lake,” DeKleva said.

Despite the disappointing finish, DeKleva said he and his partner had fun.

“It was a great experience,” he said, adding that the pair are already looking forward to defending their state title and qualifying for next year’s national championship in Oklahoma.