A Day on Lake Concordia with Connor Rushing
December 2019, Volume 108
It was at the Junior Southwest Bassmaster’s meeting earlier in the year I first met Connor Rushing and his dad, Larry. I got the opportunity to talk briefly with them prior to the meeting held at the Bass Pro Shop in Denham Springs. I got the impression of a young man that was well-mannered, respectful, and knowledgeable about bass fishing.
As the fishing season continued and the high school qualifiers came, Connor and his partner Ethan Simon have done well so far. In the Henderson Tournament, the duo finished 4th with 11.8 pounds and had a 12.33 pound sack good for 3rd at the Eastern qualifier tournament out of Doiron’s Landing. Connor fished the Northern qualifier without Ethan, due to ACT obligations, and managed an 11th place finish with a 6.78 pound bag of greenbacks. The team plans to fish the spring together in several more high school tournaments representing Central High.
I got the opportunity to fish with Connor on my home lake of Lake Concordia after a planned pre-fishing trip down south to scout for the high school qualifier was cancelled due to weather. We launched late morning after his drive up on a Monday morning. As he pulled up at Lakeview Lodge on the south end of Lake Concordia, he stepped out of the truck and went to work immediately hooking up graphs and preparing the red Champion boat of his to launch.
Within minutes we were on the water and headed out. Connor has fished Concordia numerous times and has done very well on the lake. He had a few spots in mind and I had a few I wanted to see how he fished (always looking to pick up pointers on my home lake). We settled close to a popular spot where the overflow of the lake is discharged in to a bayou to begin the flow towards the Black River Complex south of town. He took out a crankbait, chartreuse with a black back and began looking for fish on the point. As we moved deeper into the cove, he settled for a Texas rigged Baby D Bomb and a punching rig to canvas the reeds for fish. A fish or two bit but nothing got the bait enough to secure a hookset.
What do you want to be when you grow up? I remember being asked this in 8th grade English and I really had no idea. I’m not fully convinced I know today. I asked Connor Rushing the ever familiar question and he didn’t hesitate at all with his answer, “I want to fish professionally.” He said it not as a rehearsed answer but as if it was already happening. Connor has been fishing a number of years with Junior Southwest Bassmasters out of Denham
Connor Rushing flips one of the many bass caught on our day fishing on Lake Concordia in early November.
We talked of guys he most liked to watch and pattern his fishing after and a couple professionals he called by name. We talked of Greg Hackney in particular not knowing the professional angler was actually on the lake. We had noticed a wrapped boat across the lake earlier but couldn’t make out who it was. Being from the area, I knew it wasn’t a boat we see on Concordia often. The boat came by us at the near end of our day and we made out the Academy logo and the details of the boat that no doubt belonged to Greg Hackney. Greg known as the “Hack Attack” was fishing nearby and this made Connor excited. We fished in the direction where they had shut their boat down hoping to get an encounter with the professional angler. We kept looking for the boat but it was as if it vanished.
Connor, ever curious as to where the boat could have gone, we headed north looking for the angler. No luck. We can only assume they loaded at a private residence and left the lake. Getting to talk with one of his favorite professional anglers on the water would have truly made the trip exponentially better. Disappointed but excited, Connor made the decision to call it a day and head to the launch. He had the couple hour drive ahead of him and school the next day.
Here at Bassin’ in the Boot, we love the innocent enthusiasm that high school anglers show on the water. They are not as easily rattled on the water as adults; after all, they are just fishing and having fun. I could see the transition in this young angler. He is still a “kid” having fun and enjoying growing up but he has a serious side when it comes to fishing. He has a goal to fish on the big stage and I hope he makes it. If you get a chance, attend a high school tournament weigh in and you’ll see exactly what I am referring to in the anglers’ attitude and enthusiasm for the sport. Get out and Geaux Bassin’.
Seeing the serious approach taken by the yound angler to the fun-fishing with nothing on the line.
Connor preparing to land a nice fall crankbait bass.
Springs and is now a senior on the Central High School Bass Team.
Continuing to fish I turned the conversation to his long term goals, asking about his college choice and if he planned to fish at that level. He told me he didn’t plan to go to college right away but wanted to fish the “Opens” for a couple years as a non-boater before fishing as a boater and moving up the ranks to fish professionally. Extremely confident of his plan he continued to tell me of the steps needed to reach the top of the fishing world.
As we fished out of the cove and down the shoreline of the lake towards the next spot, “The Little Blue Hole”, I knew he would catch a fish; the question was, what size? Fishing the area a little tighter than most do, Connor kept the boat within 10 yards of the bank and was throwing that same crankbait when he got his first bite. A 3.35# healthy bass put up a nice fight but ultimately lost the battle as Connor took a seat, rod overhead, keeping the line tight, he reached in the water and landed the fish. The “kid” landed the fish with ease and an overall lack of energy, until he had him in hand. Then he celebrated with a high five and a big ole grin.
We fished nearly 5 hours. In those hours we hit several spots with various cover and structure. At one particular brush pile the young angler called his shot. He told me, “I’ve fished this before, there’s going to be a fish here.” He no more than got the words out of his mouth before he set the hook and boat flipped a pound, maybe pound and a half bass. Once again I saw him smile, that grin was his only reaction.
Late evening flipping on Lake Concordia while discussing fishing goals for the young angler.