COUNCE, Tenn. — Brandon Lester isn’t taking lightly the fact that two Elite Series rookies occupy second and third place going into the final day of the Whataburger Bassmaster Elite at Pickwick Lake. Cody Huff, 25, is in second place, 3 pounds, 6 ounces behind Lester. Jacob Foutz, who will turn 24 next week, is 4-14 back in third place.
“You might call them rookies, but both of them are collegiate champions,” Lester said. “Cody Huff has won more money in the Ozarks the last three or four years than most guys have won on the Elite Series the last three or four years. Them boys, they might be rookies, but they know the deal.”
The collegiate accomplishments of both are too lengthy to mention here, but, yeah, they know the deal. They competed against each other in college – Huff at Bethel University and Foutz at Bryan College. Huff estimated they’ve known each other since 2015, so it was natural for them to become travel roommates on the Elite Series this year.
“We’ve both spent a lot of time on the Tennessee River,” Huff said. “He lives at Chickamauga, and I went to school by Kentucky Lake. We both really enjoy fishing (Pickwick). It’s right in our wheelhouse.”
That’s obvious by the results. Huff has put together consecutive days of 18-5, 22-3 and 19-5 for a total of 59-13. Foutz has weighed 19-1, 18-0 and 21-4 for 58-5.
Foutz, who is from Charleston, Tenn., had a magical start Saturday.
“They came up schooling this morning as soon as I sat (the boat) down,” Foutz said. “When that happened, I looked at my cameraman and said, ‘I think it’s about to go down.’ They came up blowing shad out of the water.
“I think on my first seven casts I caught almost 18 pounds.”
Foutz has concentrated on one spot all three days. The fish aren’t always there early, but they show up eventually. “It seems like it keeps reloading,” he said. “I think it’s a place where they pull up and feed on shad.”
Foutz said he’s caught 95 percent of the bass he’s weighed in on a Strike King 10XD crankbait. The others came on a Zoom Ol’ Monster worm.
As far as lures are concerned, Huff has been a one-trick pony as well. Everything he’s weighed over the last two days has come on Dixie Jet Talon spoon. It’s a big spoon with three treble hooks.
“For some reason, I can throw a drop shot or a worm or anything and not get bit,” said Huff, who is from Ava, Mo. “There’s something about that spoon that’s been triggering them for me. It’s got a real slow fall because it’s such a big bait. When they see a big gizzard shad dying, they’ve got to eat it.”
The Dixie Jet Talon spoon has been a favorite of Huff’s for a while. He said he won a college national championship on it at Oklahoma’s Lake Tenkiller.
Lester is clearly the favorite going into the final day at Pickwick. He’s got three different places where he’s able to catch fish, and one, in particular, that has been his go-to place all three days. But rookies Huff and Foutz are locked into solid spots as well, and they’re not fishing like rookies.