Cody Huff and Garrett Enders won the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship held July 19-21 on Tenkiller Lake in Tahlequah, Okla. They will now compete separately as part of an eight-angler field at this week’s Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Classic Bracket presented by Bass Pro Shops on Milford Lake in Junction City, Kan. Competition will begin Tuesday with eight anglers fishing in a head-to-head, elimination-style format. The field will be trimmed by half each day until a champion is crowned on Thursday. The winner will receive an automatic berth into the 2019 Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. Here’s a look at the anglers with a shot at qualifying for the Super Bowl of Professional Bass Fishing.
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Cody Huff, Bethel University
Huff is from Ava, Mo. — the same hometown as pro fishing legend Rick Clunn — and he credits his father and grandfather for helping make fishing one of his greatest passions. After fishing for Ava High School, he was offered a scholarship by Bethel University — an established college fishing powerhouse located in McKenzie, Tenn. Huff is majoring in business and hopes to fish competitively for a living after college.
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Garrett Enders, Bethel University
A native of central Pennsylvania, Enders says his introduction to the sport came while trout fishing with his father. He was already hooked when a few friends at Susquehanna Valley High School introduced him to competitive bass fishing. In 2014, he won the Bassmaster High School National Championship and earned a scholarship offer to Bethel. He’s now a junior majoring in business management and administration and is eyeing a possible career in fishing. “I’m just kind of living in the moment right now,” he said. “But if things go well in this Bracket, I might try my hand at fishing the Opens and take a shot at professional fishing. I would also consider another job in the fishing industry if I get the chance.”
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Huff and Enders qualified for the College Series Classic Bracket event by winning the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship that was held July 19-21 on Tenkiller Lake in Tahlequah, Okla. Their three-day weight was 41 pounds, 6 ounces.
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Bradley Dunagan, Campbellsville University
Dunagan says his father sparked his love for the sport very early in life. “At about age 8, he really started to take me and get me into bass fishing,” he said. “From then on, it just seemed to all fall together, and I’ll never be able to thank him enough for his help and support.” Huff fished for the Wayne County High School fishing team before signing with Campbellsville, which is located in his home state of Kentucky. He’s a sophomore majoring in business — and though he hasn’t decided exactly what he wants to do after college, a career in pro fishing is a definite possibility.
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Nick Ratliff, Campbellsville University
Ratliff, who attended Elizabethtown High School in Kentucky, says he was born into a fishing family. “My grandparents owned a marine dealership, and my Papaw and dad took me fishing every chance they got,” he said. “A close family friend, John Lanz, helped me get into tournament fishing.” When Ratliff received an offer from Campbellsville, he says the choice was a no-brainer. “They offered me a scholarship — and based on it being close to home, a quality faith-driven education and being close to good fisheries, it was an easy choice.” He’s a senior majoring in business administration with an emphasis on marketing, and he’d love to fish professionally someday. “That’s been my dream ever since I was a kid,” he said. “Regardless, I was raised around the fishing industry, and I can’t imagine doing anything but working for a company in the industry.”
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Dunagan and Ratliff finished second at the Bassmaster College Series National Championship with a three-day total of 39 pounds, 7 ounces. The City of Campbellsville and Taylor County recognized the anglers Friday and announced that Aug. 14 will be Campbellsville University Bass Fishing Day.
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Nolan Minor, West Virginia University
Minor says some of the first fishing trips he can remember were canoe and wading trips with his father on the upper James River for smallmouth. “I think that started when I was about 6,” he said. “But before that, I loved bank fishing for whatever I could find in a farm pond.” He fished for the Orange County Anglers in Virginia and chose to attend WVU because of its fishing team and its proximity to excellent waters. “The campus is bordered by a big river, and we have several small lakes nearby,” he said. “I can catch all three species of bass a mere 20 steps from where I park my truck while I go to class.” A fisheries management major, he hopes to fish professionally after college. “It may take some time to get there — or maybe not, as other college series fishermen have proven,” he said. “But ultimately, that is my goal.”
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Casey Lanier, West Virginia University
Like so many anglers who participate in college fishing today, Lanier credits his father and grandfather for getting him involved in the sport. He says he chose West Virginia because it’s close to home and it offers excellent opportunities to study wildlife and fisheries resources, his major of choice. He hopes that degree will lead to a job somewhere in the fishing industry.
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Minor and Lanier placed third at the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship with a three-day total of 32 pounds, 13 ounces.
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Cole Burdeshaw, Auburn University
Burdeshaw says his family started teaching him to enjoy the outdoors before he could walk. “I always grew up loving to hunt and fish,” he said. “But as far as the competitive side of fishing, it's just something I kind of just decided I want to pursue and quickly became passionate about.” He grew up in Headland, Ala., and fished in high school for the Headland Bass Team. Then as a lifelong Auburn fan, he couldn’t resist the school’s competitive tradition and a fishing team that was already well established on the national scene. He is majoring in marketing and hopes to fish professionally. “My plan is definitely to pursue competing for a living, but I am also aware of the many great opportunities in the fishing industry,” he said. “So if fishing professionally doesn't end up working out at first, I would love to work somewhere else in the industry.”
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Peyton McCord, Auburn University
A lifelong fisherman, McCord excelled at Headland High School before deciding to attend Auburn University. Call it a family thing. “My Dad went there, and I’ve always been a huge Auburn fan,” he said. “Also, it was a great place to get my degree.” He’s working toward that degree now in agronomy and soils science. He hopes to fish for a living. But if that doesn’t work out, he plans to get a master’s degree and work in the agricultural field.
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Burdeshaw and McCord qualified for the College Series Classic Bracket by finishing fourth in the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship. Their three-day weight of 31 pounds, 2 ounces was nearly 3 pounds better than that of the fifth-place finishers.