There is a lot more to it than casting out and baiting the hook.
“Most people think that you’re sitting out on your lawn chairs off the boat, you get your bobber and bait and throw it out there and let it sit for a while,” Hudson Choquette said. “But really, it takes a lot of dedication to be able to go out there and look to where the fish are and cover as much water as possible to be able to look for those bigger fish.”
Choquette and Aaron Cherry of the Headland Bass Team are on an incredible roll. The duo have won the first three tournaments of the high school fishing season, the most impressive coming two weekends ago on Lake Tuscaloosa while beating a field of 150 competitors to take the title on the Alabama BASS High School Trail.
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone actually winning three consecutive tournaments in a row,” Cherry said. “For it to happen my senior year is kind of crazy.”
Cherry has already received multiple college scholarship offers for his fishing expertise. Choquette, a sophomore, is starting to draw some interest from colleges as well.
This is the sixth year Cherry has been part of the Headland team and the fourth for Choquette. It’s the second year the two have paired together during competitions.
“I feel like we both have a similar way of fishing,” Cherry said. “We’re very diverse anglers.”
They also are dedicated to doing all the necessary pre-tournament work needed to map out a strategy.
“Some of it is history and what you’ve already done, but being able to go out to a new lake and being open-minded is important,” Choquette said. “The lake (last win) didn’t have many big fish in it, and so going into the tournament we thought 10 pounds would win it.”
During the competition, there is a maximum of five fish that can be counted. The winning total was around 8½ pounds for the Lake Tuscaloosa tournament. The competition began at 7 a.m. and the fishermen were due back for the weigh-in at 2 p.m.
“Most of the time, we will go to our furthest spot and then we work our way back,” Choquette said of the timing strategy. “About time for the weigh-in, we’re close to the ramp so it won’t be too far of a run.”
Cherry said the team has a pretty good idea of what they have weight-wise before reaching the dock.
“My dad bought me a scale not too long ago that keeps the weights of all of them,” Cherry said. “It weighs a little lower than tournament scales, but we have a pretty good idea going in what we’re going to have.”
Still, the two have been somewhat surprised that they’ve had the winning total in three straight tournaments on the Mobile Delta, Lake Mitchell and Lake Tuscaloosa.
“Most of the tournaments we came in and we did not think that we had the winning bag whatsoever, but it turns out that we did,” Choquette said.
The next event is Saturday on Lake Martin as part of the Wiregrass Student Angler Trail.
Cherry and Choquette fished there last Sunday and plan to do the same on Friday before the competition.
While having success during pre-tournament fishing doesn’t always translate into doing well in the event, it does often provide a good barometer of things to come.
“I think it matters mentally, because going in and catching those fish actually helps you out to understand what they are doing,” Cherry said. “I’ve had tournaments that you’re not catching anything pre-fishing and you go in with the mindset that you’re not going to be able to do anything.
“But if you’re actually consistently catching fish during pre-fishing that are decent size, then you already know going into the tournament that we’re going to do well.
“I think we’re able to lock down in certain situations that we need to and are able to pick apart everything that’s out there in front of us and analyze what we need to do to win.”
It’s certainly been working so far this season for the two.
“Going into the fourth tournament, I think we just have to stay humble,” Cherry said. “We know the lake pretty well. It’s been good to us in the past.
“We were there this past weekend and caught some good fish. We just have to go in with a humble mindset and fish like we normally do and not worry about it.”