The big prize -- a $100,000 check and berth in next year's Bassmaster Classic -- eluded several local anglers who competed in last week's Toyota Bassmaster Weekend Series National Championship on Old Hickory Lake.
Lebanon's Tony Eckler was third after the second day of the four-day tournament, but two rough days left him 17th in the final standings on Saturday.
Another Lebanon fishermen, Daniel Johnson, finished a respectable fifth in the field of 87.
The tournament was won by Cookeville's Adam Wagner. He had a four-day catch of 48.59 pounds. Johnson had 40.29 pounds and Eckler 31.27 pounds.
Two Mt. Juliet fishermen, Adam Vance and David Gnewikow, finished 16th and 22nd, respectively, and Alexandria's Matt Stanley came in 29th.
The finish was disappointing for Eckler, who went into the tournament with high hopes.
"I felt pretty good after the second day," said Eckler, "but on the third day we had a two-and-half hour fog delay. That meant a shorter day of fishing. I ran about 60 miles looking for fish, when I should have stayed closer (to Saunders Ferry Park tournament headquarters) and done less running.
"It was a gamble that didn't pay off. Also, I lost good fish the third and fourth days. They wouldn't have won the tournament, but they would have put me on up in the standings."
The finish was especially disappointing for Eckler because the former Lebanon High and Tennessee Tech football star had hoped to use a victory to boost his pro fishing career.
"That was my one shot," he said. "I don't have the resources to fish the circuit, so I guess it's back to work."
Johnson, meanwhile, said he was "definitely content" with his 5th-place finish.
"I'm very happy to finish that high in a tournament on this level," said Johnson, a local realtor who tournament fishes as a hobby.
"I have a lot of other passions and outdoor interests," said Daniel, who along with his dad Mark is a dedicated deer hunter. Daniel hunted around Ft. Campbell last week prior to the Old Hickory tournament, but didn't bag one of the big bucks for which the area is famous.
Eckler felt that competing on his "home" lake would be an advantage. Johnson agreed, and turned in four consistent days.
"Going into the tournament, I felt that it would take at least 40 pounds to win it," he said, "and that's exactly what I had (40.20). But nobody could touch Wagner's 48 pounds."
Wagner opened the tournament strong, weighing in 17.34 pounds on the first day, including a 5.81-pounder. He brought in 19 bass during the four days of fishing. He caught most of his fish in "a couple of creeks about 25 miles up the river from the landing." He was casting crankbaits near shallow cover and rocky cover.
"Adam is a great fisherman and a really good guy," Johnson said. "This was a big win for him."