June 23, 2021
Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications
MT. IDA — Catching a five-fish limit totaling 13.99 pounds, recent Benton High School graduates Skyler Upton and Brayden Stewart claimed the Senior Division first-place prize at the third annual Commissioners’ Cup youth bass fishing tournament June 19 on Lake Ouachita.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation’s Commissioners’ Cup presented by Xpress Boats returned to live weigh-ins this year and more than 60 young anglers and their dedicated boat captains spent the day competing to see who could pull the largest stringer of fish from the clear waters of Lake Ouachita. This year's event featured junior high and senior high divisions with participants representing schools from across Arkansas. The top three finishing teams in the Senior Division competed for $6,000 in scholarships, while the top juniors took home generous "swag bags" filled with the latest and greatest gear, lures and tackle.
Participants in this year’s tournament were again able to compete without providing an entry fee, thanks to Xpress Boats, based in Hot Springs. Xpress has been the title sponsor of the event since its inception three years ago.
"We're so grateful for our continued partnership with Xpress Boats," said Tyler Lawrence, director of events for AGFF. Other major sponsors helping to support the event included Bale Chevrolet and Trader Bill's Outdoors. "We could not do the event without the help of supporters and volunteers — including Arkansas Game and Fish Commission fisheries division biologists and game wardens," Lawrence added.
Upton and Stewart, who have been fishing together competitively since eighth grade, each will take home a $1,500 scholarship to be used to further their education at an institution of higher learning. Their names also will be etched on the Commissioners’ Cup trophy that is housed in the lobby of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission headquarters in Little Rock. The fishing team also will be recognized at the 2021 Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame banquet on Aug. 28 in Little Rock.
Other winners included:
Senior Division 2nd Place: Layton Lammers and William Massey
Senior Division 3rd Place: Brandon Gabe and Tucker Dottley
Junior Division 1st Place: Mason Watkins and Walker Woodall, 9.19 pounds
Junior Division 2nd Place: Dawson Cooper and Nic Sutton, 5.76 pounds
Junior Division 3rd Place: Aaron Gabe and Logan Lanier, 4.74 pounds
The Big Bass Trophy was awarded to Xander Ray Cobb from Hot Springs, who caught a 4.05-pound bass to lay claim to the beautiful trophy donated by Harper's Pure Country Taxidermy in Damascus, Arkansas.
"Our Foundation Board loves hosting this event," said Deke Whitbeck, President of AGFF. "This tournament is so much fun — a lot of work, too, but allows the Foundation to put our words into action. Our goal is to help AGFC to get the next generation of Arkansans unplugged and engaged in the outdoors, and this tournament allows for just that."