Everyone loves a secret.  There is just a delight in knowing something that few others know.  The problem with secrets they almost always escape and everyone finds out.  That’s not always a bad thing, case in point the Louisiana High School Bass Nation Qualifier held on March 27, 2021 at Henderson.  A secret was revealed.  A secret few knew but now everyone knows! 

When I scanned down the tournament results of the qualifier there were numerous names that have become solidified with high school fishing in the state of Louisiana.  Names like Luke Ferachi and Jace Martello of Walker High School, David Gummow of Catholic Pointe Coupee, Highland Baptist Christian’s Hunter Neuville, and Central High School’s Lemmler siblings and teammates have become synonymous with Louisiana High School Bass Fishing.  Many of these young anglers have been apart of the great things Jim and Cindy Breaux are doing with the Junior Southwest Bassmasters of Denham Springs. 

High school bass fishing has exploded in our state and it seems as if there is no ceiling to where the sport is heading.  Many organizations including Louisiana High School Athletic Association are playing a role but Tommy Abbott and Louisiana Bass Nation have gone above and beyond the calling to ensure young anglers have ample opportunities to fish and be recognized for their accomplishments on the water.  Never one to shy from helping youth angling Tommy serves as the Louisiana Youth Director for Louisiana High School Bass Fishing.  When asked about the secret Tommy said, “Wow, did he just bust on the scene or what?!” 

The Secret's Out

April 2021, Volume 124

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Back to our secret.  This young angler is unknown in the sport.  He’s never competed in the tournaments for youth or high school just local tournaments with his dad.  We have had the opportunity to see him progress as an angler watching him weekly with his dad compete in the Bassin’ in the Boot Big Bass Thursday Tournaments.  He has gone from a ride along angler to the guy on the front deck, making decisions and having input into where and how to approach the tournaments he and dad fish together. 

Ever the competitor, he is a junior at the STEM Magnet Academy of Livonia High School where he competes in baseball as a pitcher, outfielder and third baseman or wherever his team needs him the most.  He is slated to compete at the state level in Modified Trap shooting in 4H and he maintains a 4.0 GPA in a curriculum where the words MATH and SCIENCE are in the name of the school.

The young man jumped on the radar of a few on July 23rd of last summer when he weighed in a 3.7# bass to take 2nd place at Lake St. John in the big bass weekly derby hosted by Bassin’ in the Boot.  That got him a little spending money but I think it lit a fire deep down in that competitive soul of his. 

Soon he and dad were fishing more and more and winning.  It was only a matter of time before he took the steps of competing on his own.  Fast forward to March 27, 2021 at Henderson Swamp for the Louisiana High School Bass Nation Qualifier and the stage is set.  Never one to ease into things, he jumped head first into the shark infested waters of Louisiana High School Bass Fishing.

The field consisted of 131 team boats, it’s his first tournament and to top it off his partner was unable to fish so he was flying solo.  To walk across the stage and weigh fish would have been an accomplishment.  To place in the top 100 would be something to build on, the top 50 would be an amazing experience and a top 10 would just be unbelievable.  But not this guy, he walks to the stage with 9.71 pounds good enough for second place in his inaugural tournament. 

I asked him about that experience and how he prepared.  He told me, “Me, being by myself during this tournament and it being my first one, I had to go out there and do what I know I can do.”  He continued to tell me, “I knew a while before the tournament I wasn’t going to have a partner, so during practice I had to make up for that and knew I was going to have to work harder.”  No doubt a kid who knew the weight was on his shoulders to perform and he welcomed the challenge.  “I’ve grown up fishing against a whole lot of people that were better than me and I’ve beaten them and I’ve lost to them but that pushed me to get better.” 

Tell me how you managed to catch 9.71# in your first high school tournament? “I started in a spot I’ve never fished in before looking for a place we found in practice.” The bite started quickly, “I started catching fish quickly…. I had 3 fish by 8:15 including a 4.20 that really helped my weight out.” 

What’d you think when you realized you were going to hang on to 2nd place, I asked him, “With ten minutes left to fish and I had one 12-inch fish and couldn’t cull it out, I said to myself I either have enough and this is God telling me that or it’s not my time.”  He went to tell me, “When I weighed in and seen I was sitting in second and wasn’t moving I was thinking I am going to stay there.  They still had people weighing in and the only words I was waiting to hear were “scales closed.”  When they said that I was in shock that I did that by myself against these fishermen.”

Well he’s certainly gotten better and will continue to improve now that he’s placed second in a state qualifier.  That’s no easy task for any team let alone a young angler fishing solo in his first big tournament on his own.  And if I know this young man like I think I do; this tournament will not be the last you see Garrett Whittington near the top of the weights. 

Garrett is driven to do the very best he can in whatever it is he does.  Getting to know Carl and Garrett over the last year or more you can tell Garrett is being raised right.   The Whittington’s are an extremely close family and Garrett has no bigger fans or supporters than mom, Tammy or brother, Wyatt.  Ever the respectful, polite, and humble angler on and off the water, Garrett Whittington is destined to do great things in life. 

Garrett has an interest in welding, fabrication and construction management after high school but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him competing on the baseball diamond or fishing collegiately.  The sport of bass fishing continues to grow and Garrett will continue to fish no doubt.  Who knows, we may very well see him compete at the top levels one day.  We sure wish him the very best of luck now that the secret is out!

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On the water and at the scales, Garret showing off some nice fish in his first Louisiana High School Bass Nation Qualifier.  This bag left him on the stage with a second place finish while fishing solo in a team event.

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After the tournament Garrett stepped up to shake hands and take home that second place prize.