It’s been said that a family which plays together, stays together.
Sometimes such a family earns pay together, as well. One could ask Mike Wood and son Caden about that.
Traveling west out to Lake Powell last weekend, the Bayfield men not only competed in the Ultimate Bass Team Tour’s 2019 Tournament of Champions, they won first place at the Oct. 25-26 event.
“These desert lakes are my lakes, man – Havasu, Mead, Powell – and when we went to practice, I said, ‘Caden, we’re going to win this tournament,’” Mike Wood recalled Wednesday afternoon.
After two days’ worth of work on the water then a nervous final weigh-in, it was announced the Woods had prevailed with a total catch approaching 24½ pounds.
“You’ve got smallmouth and largemouth, and you weigh your five heaviest fish each day,” explained Mike, who thanked sponsors Ardent Reels, Enigma Rods, Yamamoto Plastics and Integrity Heating & Air Conditioning. “I think it was 24.42 or something.”
According to tour rules, each bass must be 12 inches long – unless the state’s or lake’s size limit differs – and caught on artificial lures from on board a boat; no diving in to physically grab “the one that got away” or manually maneuvering the vessel into a better fishing position. Rods cannot exceed 8 feet in length.
With rules permitting only one rod/reel to be in usage at any time during competition, patience becomes a vital virtue at an event like the TOC, from which the Woods departed holding an oversized check for over $10,000 in prize money.
They also brought back the event’s Big Bass award for a 4.65-pound largemouth hooked on Day 2, increasing their earnings to more than $11,600.
Caden was reportedly ecstatic with the win and asked Mike how much he would earn for his work. Mike said he would put $2,000 in Caden’s college account.
“Caden’s more or less a baseball player,” Mike said. “I’m telling you, that’s where we’re going to win a state championship again in about three or four years. But a long story short, I got Caden into fishing last year. We fished tournaments, came in second last year at Lake Navajo, then this year we went to the championship.
“I’m trying to help Caden get a scholarship for his education, and it’s looking good, to be honest.”
Mentioning several major universities that support competitive fishing teams such as Texas A&M, Alabama and Georgia, Mike indirectly challenged area and regional high schools to consider asking their state association, the Colorado High School Activities Association, to officially recognize and sanction the sport.
“That’s what we need to do,” he said. “Get young kids to get into it, to want to participate. A lot of kids love to fish. ”
And that’s no tall tail.
DID YOU KNOW: The Illinois High School Association was the first such body to offer bass fishing as a sanctioned prep sport, starting in its 2008-09 scholastic year with Tennessee and Kentucky, respectively, following suit during the next five years. And as either a varsity or club-level sport, the University of Indiana founded what’s believed to be the first collegiate team back in 1987.