Anthony Cicero IV and Dakota Snyder, seniors at Elizabethtown High School, brought home the win Saturday, June 22nd in the 10th annual High School Fishing World Finals on Pickwick Lake in Alabama.
On the final day of the 3-day event, the team weighed in a total of 16 pounds 6 ounces of bass, topping the second-place finishers by over a pound and a half. Many of the teams were out deep on the ledges during the event, but the winning team found a shallow bite that ended up being the winning deal for them.
High School Fishing World Championship: Qualifying for the Event
To qualify, anglers have to be apart of the TBF SAF (Student Angler Federation). The qualifying event for Anthony and Dakota was held at the Chesapeake Bay Flats in Northeast, Maryland. Known as Quad States (Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania), the qualifying event was held in July of 2018. The duo placed 2nd out of the teams from Pennsylvania at the event to qualify for the world championship.
This was Anthony’s second time qualifying and Dakota’s first tournament he had ever fished.
High School Fishing World Championship: Arriving at Pickwick Lake
10-months after qualifying for the event, the duo arrived at Pickwick and had 3-days of official practice to figure out the bite over an 11-hour drive from home. As a coach and boater, Anthony’s father was allowed to fish with them during practice and help the boys make decisions and build their pattern for the event.
Upon arriving, they tried to locate some ledge fish, but there were always boats where they wanted to fish, with 388 boats in the event, Pickwick Lake was crowded. With those conditions, the team had to switch it up.
“We never could locate a ledge bite like that so we decided to go shallow and hunt some grass.”
They started off in some creeks, looking for grass, both shallow and deep. We fished around for a little while and finally settled on Mulberry Creek where Anthony had fished the year prior.
High School Fishing World Championship: Mulberry Creek
“When we got to Mulberry, it was absolutely loaded with grass. Last year it was emergent, but this year it was tall and thick about 2-3 feet under the surface.”
The team ended up catching one good bass out of the grass and then found some smaller fish as well, but it wasn’t exactly what they were after. On the last day of practice, they pulled in and found a brush pile right in the grass where the bass were schooled up. They caught a few two pounders and left to find more.
The first day of the tournament, they rolled into Mulberry and Anthony and Dakota filled the boat right off of that brush pile with some 2 to 3 pounders. At Pickwick, they knew fish that size were not going to get the job done, so they ended up bouncing around to some smaller main lake coves to finish out their day.
They ended up finding some coves with a few better than average fish.
At the start of the second day, they decided to stay out of Mulberry and went back to running their main river coves. The duo sacked up a limit on frogs and chatterbaits, but they didn’t feel that the coves would be productive the third day.
“We caught 5 but didn’t get many more bites. The second day was tough compared to the number of bites we got on the first day.”
When Anthony and Dakota awoke on the third and final day of the tournament, Anthony had a feeling in his gut he chose to follow. “The morning of the third day, we figured we would run our spots like the first day, so we ended up in Mulberry early.”
The water had cleared up a little and they found that there was a log paired with the brush pile they had found. They ended up catching a few four pounders off of that brush pile before Anthony caught a 7-pound, 7-ounce bass.
Anthony’s father was a bit emotional when describing that catch. He said, “Once it was in the net, I knew it was over, they had it won.” The duo kept fishing after that catch but said they had a hard time not laughing and celebrating from time to time. “It was surreal to know we had it won, we just spent the day fishing around laughing and having a good time.”
High School Fishing World Championship: Frogs and Chatterbaits
Back in the coves, we were throwing the frogs around matted grass. The chatterbaits we were running right over the grass that was just under the surface. In the very backs of the coves, we found some deeper pockets where the big fish seemed to sit which is what helped us get a solid bag on day two.
Scholarships and After High School Plans
For their victory, Anthony and Dakota won their choice of scholarship offers from Bethel University, Simpson University, and Kentucky Christian University.
Anthony was unsure about attending college until this win. “I might go to college now since we won,” he said. With such great universities offering a chance to attend, he said the hardest part now will be deciding which university to attend.
Dakota plans to join the U.S. Marines after his upcoming senior year to serve his country. He feels lead to do so, so that citizens like himself can chase their own dreams, be it fishing, or whatever else it may be.
This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert
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