The fish didn’t get away for Elizabethtown’s Anthony Cicero IV and Dakota Snyder.
And neither did Saturday’s tournament championship.
Cicero and Snyder, both students at Elizabethtown Area High School, teamed up to win the 2019 TBF Student Angler Federation High School Fishing World Finals on Pickwick Lake in Florence, Alabama. The pair caught three bass weighing in at 16 pounds, 6 ounces to edge their closest competitors by 1 pound, 9 ounces.
With the victory, the two won their choice of scholarship offers from Bethel University (Tennessee), Simpson University (California) or Kentucky Christian University.
For his part, Snyder, a rising senior, said he plan on joining the United States Marines after his graduation next year. Meanwhile, Cicero said he thought the win would have a life-changing impact for him.
“I might go to college now since we won,” Cicero said via a press release. “At first, I wasn’t sure if I’d go, but I might go now.”
The four-day event, open to any high school fishing team across the country, drew a field of 389 teams. The finals field was cut to just 31 for Saturday’s day four, and weights were zeroed with the winner determined by heaviest final-day weight.
While many of their competitors opted for Pickwick’s traditional offshore ledge game, Cicero and Snyder quickly figured out that their best opportunities would be found shallower. Working in the Mulberry Creek area, upriver from Kroger Island, Cicero and Snyder focused on shallow grass with wood and caught fish from 8 inches of water to 5 feet.
They had plenty of area at their disposal, but ended up sealing the deal on a single piece of cover.
“We were fishing this stump where we had caught a couple in practice and we caught our three best fish there today and ended it all,” Cicero said via the release.
Among their catch was a 7-pound, 7-ounce largemouth that was good enough to earn Saturday’s Big Bass honors.
All the pair’s fish were caught on bladed jigs. The two mixed up their presentations between a Z-Man ChatterBait Jack Hammer and a Phenix Vibrator Jig. Both wore green pumpkin Lake Fork Live Magic Shad trailers.
“In the morning, we would burn it right above the grass and later in the day we would slow roll it to get it down deeper in the grass,” Cicero noted.
Complete results from the event, along with the weigh-ins, can be found at HighSchoolFishing.org.