2019 Lake Fork Open

Cayuga fishing team duo of Emily Banta, left, and Kolton Foerster, right, brought home sixth place in the 2019 Lake Fork Open High School Scholarship Tournament, July 20-21. The pair was awarded $1500 in college scholarship money.

Cayuga bass fishing duo Emily Banta and Kolton Foerster had much to smile about when they left the Lake Fork Open on Sunday. In her inaugural high school season, Banta, competing against a field of 81 teams, saw her team catapult into sixth-place at the end of day one.

Also making his Lake Fork debut, Foerster snagged an extra $500 in scholarship money, following the 2.21-pound catch that captured first-place for “Big Bass” on the tournament's opening day.

Big Bass, an individual ranking aside from the team's total, is awarded to the participant who reels in the day's biggest catch.

As a team, however, the pair remained content with their sixth seed.

“We were pretty happy with sixth-place, because that was a scholarship place,” Foerster said. “Of course, we were going for first, but we were confident with where we were placed.”

On day two, both the first and third seeds fell from the previous day. As the leaderboard shifted slightly, however, Banta and Foerster stayed confident in their initial strategy.

Their opportunity to pre-fish twice before the start of the competition gave them a chance to secure comfortable spots around the lake. They immediately took advantage of their predetermined spot on day one, which turned in five fish.

And sitting just outside the top five entering Day 2, they saw an opportunity to capitalize on their day one performance.

“Since we were comfortable with sixth-place,” Foerster said, “we had two options: We discussed fishing out deep looking for those big 'overs.' Or do we want to fill our sack and then find the big one?”

The two went with the latter strategy. Though the big fish never showed, their reliable spot from day one allowed them to catch enough fish to fill their limit and ensure a satisfying sixth-place finish.