Chelsea teen teams up to win Bassmaster High School All-American event

Published 10:49 am Wednesday, May 25, 2022


QUITMAN, Texas – Bassmaster Elite Series pro Justin Hamner and Bassmaster High School All-American Braxton Hopper have been lifelong competitors on the local tournament scene in their home state of Alabama.

They’ve been taking one another’s money for years.

But on Saturday, May 21, they teamed together to win the Bassmaster High School All-American Exhibition Tournament presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors at Lake Quitman.

They were one of 12 teams, each made up of an Elite pro and a High School All-American, who were allowed to weigh in one bass apiece.

Hopper, who is from Chelsea, weighed a 6-pound, 7-ounce largemouth, and Hamner weighed a 9-pound, 7-ounce bass that ranked as the largest of the event.

That helped the pair win with a Texas-sized two-fish total of 15 pounds, 14 ounces.

“Fishing one day with an Elite pro gave me a whole new perspective on things,” Hopper said. “There’s a certain mindset you have to have to compete in this sport, and I understand that now. I didn’t think about it this way before, but now I see what it takes. If you’re not fishing to win, you shouldn’t be out there.”

Like most of the All-Americans, Hopper has aspirations of fishing at the professional level, and Hamner said he’s well on his way to being ready.

“We caught a 6-pounder off a brush pile, I caught that 9-pounder and we lost another one that was about 8,” Hamner said. “Then, he caught that 6-pounder on a frog. It was a great day. Braxton and his dad have been hurting people’s feelings in the tournaments I fish back home for a long time. So, I knew he could fish before he ever stepped in the boat.”

The 12 Bassmaster High School All-Americans were chosen during an annual process earlier this year that involves hundreds of applications from all over the country.

The winners were announced in late April, and on Friday, they were treated to a banquet at Academy Sports + Outdoors in Greenville, Texas, where they taught a fishing clinic for children from the Boys & Girls Club, before they were treated to a shopping spree inside the store.

The All-Americans also received swag bags with everything from tackle and clothing to Humminbird LakeMaster cards chosen specifically for the region of the country where they live.

“When I first found out that High School All-American was even something that could be done, I told myself no matter what I did, it would go toward getting to this moment right here,” Hopper said. “It’s been everything I dreamed it would be.”