A pair of young anglers made their mark on the Louisiana High School BASS Nation circuit on March 19. Fishing the “Hawgfest” tournament on Caney Lake, Mason McCormick, 18, and Alexis Virgillito, 15, caught what is likely the heaviest stringer ever recorded in a high-school fishing tournament. Their five-bass stringer weighed a whopping 37.13 pounds.
Anchored by a 9.22-pound largemouth, this weight beat out the second-place stringer by more than 13 pounds. Winning the qualifying tournament in Louisiana also secured the team’s spot at the league’s National Championship tournament later this year.
The Bossier Parish Bass Team was captained by Bradley Virgillito, Alexis’ father, who accompanied the pair on the water and shared the news on social media the following day.
“I can’t say enough about the young man [Mason’s father] has raised,” Bradley wrote on Facebook. “Mason goes above and beyond to try to teach Alexis. Today my heart was melting because of that.”
Bradley tells Outdoor Life that the tournament circuit requires each team to have an adult captain onboard who’s in charge of running the boat. The captain can also advise the team to a certain extent, but it’s up to the anglers to get the bass in the livewell.
“Team captains like me can advise them where to fish, or with lure selection, but they’re fully in charge of the fishing,” he says.
Bradley also fished Caney Lake with the teens on Wednesday and Friday to practice for the tournament on Saturday, which brought together 185 teams from across the state. The tournament began at daybreak, and all teams were back at the weigh-in by 4 p.m. All bass were released per tournament rules.
Taking the podium with McCormick was a proud moment for both Alexis and her father, but this wasn’t the first time she’s made high-school bass fishing history. Participating in FLW’s Louisiana High School State Fishing Championship last March, Alexis and her teammate Taylor Bacot brought in a five-bass stringer weighing 30.3 pounds and became the first all-female duo to win a high school fishing tournament in any state.
“Last year Alexis and her team partner Taylor Bacot won the FLW Louisiana state high school bass fishing championship, the first all-female team to do so,” Bradley says proudly of his daughter. “They fished the championship on [Tennessee’s] Pickwick Lake and didn’t place in the event. But just competing on that level is incredible, just like this year will be for Alexis and Mason.”
He says the two anglers are already looking forward to the upcoming National Championships. The date and location for that tournament has not yet been announced, but it will likely take place sometime in September.