Cody Huff didn’t even plan on fishing the final Toyota Series Plains Division event on Table Rock, but being it’s only 45 minutes from his house and he'd already filled a deer tag he figured it couldn't hurt. That decision turned out to be the right one as he’d take the lead on day one with 16 pounds, 15 ounces and never look back. The Ava, Mo., pro would add 13-15 and 15-6 to bring his total to 46-4 over the next two days and be crowned champion for the second time this season. With his win, Huff earned over $32,000 and another trophy to add to his growing collection.
“This tournament was one I didn’t know I was going to win,” Huff says. “Honestly, I thought about not fishing to tell you the truth. I ended up just coming down and I knew I wasn’t going to get much practice, but it’s on the home pond and I kinda hated to not be out here.”
After just a few short hours of practice earlier this week, Huff stumbled on his winning pattern and knew it would be something the majority of anglers wouldn’t do – hunt down suspended fish in the middle of creeks.
“I was actually heading back in on my first day of practice because I had to be back home early when I saw a place I remembered catching them on a long time ago,” he says. “I swung in there just to see if there were any there and believe it or not, I caught a 4 and a 3 on back-to-back drops on a school and never went to ‘em during the tournament. It was an hour run from takeoff and I didn’t want to do that, so the next day I figured out you could do it down here and I wanted to fish more than run, so I did.”
Targeting suspended fish relating to schools of bait is something Huff is more than familiar with – especially on Table Rock. It’s how he won on Toledo Bend earlier this year and when he realized the fish were positioned in places he normally targets in the winter, he knew it was game on.
“Most of the fish I caught this week were in creeks and if you could find one that had a really deep, defined ditch it was perfect,” Huff explains. “We got that big rain last week and the water came up and I think that water coming in made those shad move to the backs of the creeks. As the water quit running in, it seemed like the shad were making their way back out to the main lake.
“I’m really glad this tournament wasn’t a couple more days because today I caught them off of all new stuff. I scrapped everything I had and around 10 or 11 today and just had to go fishing.”
Huff’s primary pattern was dropping a chrome blue No. 9 Rapala Jigging Rap on a 6-foot, 8-inch medium-heavy Johnny Morris Signature Series rod with 12-pound fluorocarbon down to fish he saw on his electronics. That was the key to getting bigger bites on the first two days, especially for bigger largemouths sitting in 40 to 70 feet of water over anywhere from 50 to 100 feet from Indian Point down to the dam. Once he’d drop on a group of bass, he says it didn’t take long for them to eat if they were going to. A hop or two at most was all it took to trigger them, and oftentimes they’d pounce on it as soon as it got to them.
Today, Huff weighed all smallmouths and had to completely switch away from the Jigging Rap, but still focused on suspended fish.
“The fish weren’t where they were supposed to be today and instead of looking for new fish I wanted to figure out where they went,” says the Bethel University angler. “I never found the largemouths, but when I got farther out I ended up finding some smallmouths suspended really only 10 feet under the surface over 100 feet. The shad were up high, and the smallmouths were singles and I made long casts to them with a little swimbait and they ate that thing. It was a lot of fun once I figured it out.”
With his bank account a little bigger and confidence to boot, Huff is now looking ahead to his next big tournament – the Toyota Series Championship on Lake Cumberland.
“I’m excited about that one,” Huff says of the Championship, which comes with a $200,000 top prize. “I think it’ll kinda set up in my wheelhouse. It’s one I’ve been looking forward to all year, you always have that one tournament you have your eye on and that’s the one I’ve been looking forward to.”
Even with the next tournament already on his mind, Huff is going to cherish this season, even if it takes a minute to sink in.
“It’s just crazy and it’s kind of surreal. You don’t really realize it until you get home and look at the wall at the trophy sitting there and realize, ‘Holy crap, I actually pulled that off.’
“The big factor for me this week was the weather. If we would have had some nasty weather there would have been some big bags caught on a spinnerbait and stuff just beating the bank. I was just super lucky the weather cooperated, and I didn’t lose any. It’s just one of those weeks. It’s meant to be.”
Top 10 pros
1. Cody Huff – Ava, Mo. – 46-4 (15) – $32,552
2. Jason Lieblong – Conway, Ark. – 43-2 (15) – $13,233
3. Spencer Shuffield – Hot Springs, Ark. – 39-12 (15) – $9,316
4. Lawson Hibdon – Versailles, Mo. – 39-1 (15) – $7,763
5. Corey Cook – Lebanon, Mo. – 35-9 (12) – $6,987
6. Cole Breeden – Eldridge, Mo. – 35-7 (15) – $6,210
7. Aaron Hodge – Harrison, Ark. – 35-3 (15) – $5,434
8. Nicky Parsons – West Fork, Ark. – 27-9 (12) – $4,658
9. Blake Edwards – Springfield, Mo. – 25-14 (10) – $3,881
10. Mike Casada – Stearns, Ky. – 22-4 (9) – $3,105