Featured Image Credit: BASS/Ronnie Moore
The 2018 college fishing season is one ANGLR Experts Cody Huff and Garrett Enders will look back on fondly for years to come, though it nearly wasn’t. Huff and Enders comprise a two-man fishing team that represents Bethel University’s Bass Team. At the end of May, the duo set out on the Red River to compete for the FLW YETI College Fishing National Championship.
2018 College Fishing Season: The Red River
“We found a really good area,” said Huff. “We caught what we thought was good for there on the first day and then we laid off of them. We just caught 5 keepers for about 8-pounds and left but when we got to weigh-in, everybody had 10 or 12 pounds.”
After the day one underestimation of what they needed, it was milk it for all it’s worth on day 2 when Huff and Enders returned to their primary spot.
“We put our heads down and grinded it out there the next two days and caught what we caught,” said Enders.
On days 2 and 3, Bethel brought 13-pounds and 14-ounces and 12-pounds, 12-ounces to the scales respectively which was enough to claim second place, but not enough to overcome the day 1 deficit.
“We just came up short,” said Huff. “Freeman and Soileau had a really good last day. They didn’t leave the door open at all but we did what we needed to do for if they did. We had a good tournament but we just didn’t come out on top.”
Lesson learned from day 1, “You better get all you can get everyday,” said Huff.
Runner-up is a bitter-sweet pill to stomach, but the great thing about bass fishing is there’s always another tournament coming down the pipe to look forward to. For Huff and Enders, it wouldn’t be long till they would have a shot at redemption.
“It was super cool watching University of Louisiana Monroe win at the Red River,” said Enders. “I was like, dang it would be really cool to win one of those things and it just fueled us to go and try to win the next one.”
The ‘next one’ was only about 6 weeks away and came in the form of the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship on Lake Tenkiller in Oklahoma.
2018 College Fishing Season: The ‘Next One’
“I really, really wanted to just get it done,” said Huff. “I’m not too far from Tenkiller so I made a trip down there in pre-practice about a month early and the lake was just on fire. I found 7 or 8 docks with big schools of bass on them that I could catch flipping a spoon.”
The pre-practice paid off big for Bethel on days 1 and 2, having Enders and Huff holding down the top spot after days 1 and 2, carrying the lead headed into the final day.
But, would they be able to ride that momentum and slam the door?
“Nothing really went wrong until the last day. But the last day was super tough on us,” said Huff. “We hadn’t lost a fish all week and that’s hard to do fishing docks. You have to be pretty lucky to do that. But day 3 it all hit the fan and we really had to reach deep down and see how much guts we really had. Cause that’s tough after just losing a National Championship to leave the door open like we did.”
The duo had amassed 32-pounds, 4-ounces on days 1 and 2, averaging over 16-pounds a day. On the final day they brought just 3 fish to the scales for 9-pounds, 2-ounces. The door was certainly ajar. Bradley Dunagan and Nick Ratliff of Campbellsville University placed their foot firmly inside the door with a final day rally of 18-pounds, 2-ounces.
But the late push wasn’t quite enough and it was Dunagan and Ratliff this time that tasted defeat while Huff and Enders relished in the victory.
2018 College Fishing Season: Looking Forward to 2019
Enders and Huff both have another year in the college fishing world and are already qualified for the FLW National Championship on the Potomac later this spring, both hoping for a shot at redemption and a chance to hoist that trophy overhead, the one that got away.
But what else lies ahead for the two young anglers from Bethel?
“I fished the Costa Series last year and am fishing them again this year,” said Huff modestly. It was only after some digging that Huff added. “Well in my first ever Costa on Table Rock I was leading after day 1 by 6-pounds. I had 6 different schools found but the wind died on day 2 and the water was clearing up and they just left.”
Still, starting off with that kind of a bang certainly shows that Huff’s fishing career won’t be capped off by a college degree. The part of that first Costa Huff is proudest of, “The best part was, I mean I don’t come from a bunch of money or anything and I don’t run a big fancy boat. I have an ’88, 18-foot Ranger with a 150 on it I fish out of and it felt good to do so well in it.”
Enders said he might pursue competitive fishing after college but that’s not necessarily all he could see himself doing.
“I’d love to try it at least for a year or two but if I didn’t make it, I’d love it just as much to have a job in the fishing industry. I’d love to work for any kind of fishing company, I think that would be awesome.”
Follow along with Enders and Huff’s journey as they see where fishing takes them by following below!