The Cayuga Wildcats high school bass fishing team ended their 2019 tournament schedule with a solid day on the waters of Lake Fork Saturday.
183 teams competed on a rather “tough day” on Lake Folk due to the cold front pushing forth. Despite the limited bites Cayuga expected heading into the competition, Cayuga placed two teams inside the top-20 of Saturday's tournament and had six of their nine competing teams weigh-in fish.
Angler duo Emily Banta and Kara Stovall placed 12th overall as they reeled in five fish weighing 6.16 pounds – a drastic improvement from their 88th place finish at Richland Chambers a few weeks prior.
Fellow pair Morgan Banta and Kolten Goolsby also maxed out at five fish weighing 5.46 pounds Saturday securing 19th. It was a determined effort from both teams on difficult waters to close out the first half of the tournament season.
For Morgan and Kolten, they were tested on the Lake early when the three best spots they had in pre-fishing didn't produce a single catch. Admittedly, a discouraging moment, but a testament to their mental toughness to continue to persevere.
“It's hard for kids that age to stay after it when it's that tough,” captain Shane Goolsby said. “It's usually where those inexperienced teams struggle. You have to be able to adapt. We'll see next year a lot of our teams will be better because they were able to go through that.”
They were forced to react with the weather. However, they knew the lake wouldn't turnover from the dam to up the creek at the same time. So they were able to replicate many of the conditions they did prepare for in a separate part of the lake.
With a relatively young team overall, Cayuga performed well during a period captain Goolsby described as “the toughest time of the year.” Many of them are used to fishing during warmer times of the year where anglers tend to catch a bit more.
“It was hard for them to accept the fact you're going to have to get in the right mindset of catching just a few fish,” Goolsby said. “They've been through that now. It was a matter of training their mind.”
The improvement Cayuga has seen overall is accredited to developing a tougher mentality when on the waters. It's apparent as their six weighed teams were the most of the tournament season this year.
Marley Vincent and Kynzie Watson placed 78th with two fish caught weighing 1.48 pounds. Ayden Stovall and Steven Wingfield brought in three fish for a total weight of 1.04 pounds.
Megan Kelly placed 98th with an unassigned partner and was able to reel in a single catch, while duo Matthew Pendely and Jayden Rampy also made a single catch in the afternoon.
For now, Cayuga's bass fishing squad will use this time to clear their heads before tournament action reconvenes on Feb. 22 at Lake Ray Hubbard.
“The kids are getting better,” Goolsby said. “They've had a few tournaments under their belt and they're starting to get in a groove. They have the confidence and mentality to handle things when it starts to get tougher.”