Abby Montgomery and teammate John Adams Gray walked away with the Alabama B.A.S.S. Nation High School Angler Of the Year award (AOY) for 2018. The two high school students, members of the Lakeside High School fishing team, have proven to be a very potent combo and were a constant threat for a very high tournament finish or the win.
The road to AOY was paved by placing in the top ten of every Alabama B.A.S.S. Nation High School event fished this year. Montgomery and Gray won the high school Guntersville tournament–in the snow no less. Gray said, “AOY is based on your top four finishes on the trail. We had a 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th out of nearly 300 boats in each tournament. Montgomery added, “After my partner, John Adams Gray and I won the Lake Guntersville tournament we told our captain, who is my father, we were going for Angler Of The Year.”
John Adams said, “This was our first AOY win. Abby and I finished with 73 lbs. Our closest competitor had 43 lbs. But, we won by only a few points. I would like to congratulate the Headland fishing team for their great competition.” He also noted, “We will be returning to the National Championship on Kentucky Lake this year.”
The team was awarded AOY scholarship money. Montgomery received a $10,000 Scholarship to Montevallo and Gray had already decided to attend Auburn so he took a $1,000 scholarship to Auburn instead. “The scholarship check was very important. My parents have done so much for me that is great that I will be able to contribute to my own education. I work to help with my education and the scholarship that I earned and the money that I won is very beneficial,” Gray pointed out.
The team’s participation in the 2018 Alabama B.A.S.S. Nation High School State Championship was a labor of love but luck was just not cooperating for the two high schoolers. John Adams said, “The State Championship was a hard tournament. We had an early blast-off on day 1 and were officially culling fish by 7:30 a.m. However, we did not catch a fish after 8:30 a.m. on Lake Neely Henry. We ended day 1 in second out by only a few ounces. Unfortunately, we did not blast off until after 8:00 on day 2 and struggled. We weighed in 3 fish and fell out of the rankings.
The pair has been fishing together since the team was put together 3 years ago. Two years ago they won the FLW State High School Championship on Eufaula. They also won the Student Anglers Federation State Championship in 2015.
Abby started fishing the Alabama B.A.S.S. Nation High School tournaments in seventh grade so this is her fourth year of competition. This year will be her fourth state championship and second consecutive year going to nationals at Kentucky Lake. Regarding her fishing skills, she said, “The way I fish now as compared to the way I fished in seventh grade has evolved into a more technical process of locating and catching fish. I am utilizing the skills I have learned from my father versus just throwing the line out just hoping to catch a fish.”
Both tournament anglers attribute their skills and success to personal mentoring. Abby gives credit to her father, Scott Montgomery. He began taking Abby fishing at a very young age. Her first fish was a two pound bass caught on a Barbie rod when she was four years old. John Adams credits his fishing success to his dad and Scott Montgomery. Gray said, “I would like to thank my father for my fishing fundamentals and my captain, Scott Montgomery, Big Bite Baits, for mentoring me and helping me take my skills to the next level. ‘Mr. Scott’ is an incredible fisherman and person and has really given me the skills to continue to fish at a higher level. I will be forever grateful for the opportunities he has given me and the time he has dedicated to Abby and me.
Asked if she would recommend other girls to join a high school bass team she said, “I would! If a girl enjoys fishing, joining a bass club or team is a great way to enjoy her hobby and possibly earn money for college. Also, the high school bass fishing community offers you an opportunity to make to friends and connections.”
John Adams will not be competing in high school tournaments next year but could very well be joining the famed Auburn bass team. The Auburn Bass Team is coached by Darrell High who also manages Alabama B.A.S.S. Nation High School division. Montgomery, a Sophomore, will pick-up a new partner- her younger sister Shelby. Dad Scott Montgomery will continue on as the team’s boat captain.
Abby intends to follow in the footsteps of her first cousin, Laura Ann Foshee, to fish on a college team. Laura Ann received a scholarship to fish for Savannah College of Art and Design where she just finished her sophomore year. Foshee is still the only girl to be named Bassmaster All Americans.
The final word came from John Adams, “The National Championship is in August and we are ready to go!” That, I think you can count on.