William Ayscue and Jacob Rogers arrived to the High School Fishing World Finals and National Championship without much fanfare.
Far from the familiarity of Lake Lanier, the two South Forsyth anglers were in a different state fishing on a completely different lake.
By the end of the tournament, though, just about everybody knew their name. That’s because Ayscue and Rogers led the entire pack of 259 teams after the first two rounds of the tournament.
“We started off with nobody knowing who we were. We were just two kids from Forsyth County fishing,” Ayscue said. “We had a couple good days, and the next thing you know, a lot of people knew who we were. We were getting interviewed – we had cameras all over us. It was really cool.”
Ayscue and Rogers finished third nationally, catching nine fish for a total of 25 pounds, 10 ounces.
“I thought we were going to be maybe top 10,” Ayscue said. “I didn’t expect to be [first place]; and not only the national side, but the world side too. So, not only did everyone from my school know who I was, but a lot of people from different states and different countries knew who we were.”
At the end of the day, each team produced their top three catches.
Ayscue and Rogers caught three fish for 7 pounds, 13 ounces the first day, but it was their second-round total that catapulted them into first place.
It started just 30 minutes into the day, when Ayscue spotted what ended up being a 6 ½-pound largemouth bass.
“We were going down a bank and I had a buzz bait, and two seconds later I saw a fish come up from under it,” Ayscue recalled. “I was like, ‘That’s a big fish,’ and it comes up and hits it and I was like, ‘Holy crap.’ My boat captain and my partner Jake, none of them were paying attention to me and all they hear is this big explosion. I was like, ‘Get the net!’”
That was the beginning of a 11-pound, 9-ounce total, which stood as the second-biggest round of the entire tournament.
Lake Hartwell lacked the consistency they're used to seeing on Lake Lanier, so the two had to adjust their strategy.
“On Lanier, I can go out there and I can fish brush piles for spots,” Ayscue said. “With the spotted bass, you can catch 4-pounders pretty easily on Lake Lanier. On Hartwell, the fish are a lot smaller – the spotted bass are – so we just decided we were going to swing for the fences and go for the biggest largemouth we could and hope we could get a big bag, which we ended up doing. That really helped us out.”
Ayscue and Rogers followed that up with a total of 6 pounds, 4 ounces on the third day, which allowed the pair to finish third in the entire country.
“It was raining, so it kind of messed with our bite a little bit,” Ayscue said. “But we still did end up being able to finish third, which wasn’t a terrible placement by any means.”
In fact, their performance landed them $96,000 in scholarship money to Drury University in Springfield, Missouri, to compete for the school’s bass fishing team.
Ayscue and Rogers are rising seniors at South, where they compete for the War Eagles’ bass fishing team, which is led by Scott Morlanne.
The two began fishing together last year and hope to put together a productive senior season this year on the Georgia High School Fishing circuit.
“Me and Jake kind of started fishing a lot more during quarantine together,” he said. “Then my parents bought a bass boat and we met Jackson, our boat captain. We all three just got along really well and meshed together really well. We were doing these tournaments and actually ended up finishing pretty well in the GHSF line, which qualified us to go fish there.”