Cody Cutter burned all of his time off from work this year fishing.
The Harveys Lake resident used his days off not so much to vacation at the beach, but to moonlight for his other career.
Cutter, 24, has been working on becoming a professional bass angler for several years, and this year he took a big step toward realizing his dream.
Competing in the Northeast Division of the T-H Marine BFL Series, Cutter fished in five tourneys in New York and Maryland, logging an overall finish of third out of 298 anglers. It was Cutter’s best finish in any BFL tour since he began competing on the circuit in 2013, and now he’s inspired to take the next step.
That means competing in the Costa FLW series next year — only a step down from the FLW Tour, which is the apex for pro bass anglers.
While Cutter’s fishing ability is unquestioned, there will be a few obstacles when it comes to competing in the Costa series. Mainly, time and money.
“It takes time not only to travel and fish each tournament, but also to go to the location and practice beforehand,” Cutter said. “It’s also very expensive.”
The three Costa tournaments carry a registration fee of $1,700 each. They’re held at Lake Champlain, Thousand Island and Lake Erie — all in New York. The means money for gas, lodging and food. To compete in the BFL this year alone, Cutter estimates he spent $4,000 in gas for his truck and boat.
But Cutter isn’t deterred, and he said the first Costa tournament at Lake Champlain in June will likely determine his next step.
“It’s going to be a big challenge. There are 150 boats in these tournaments and I’ll be fishing against anglers double my age with more experience,” he said. “If my finish is terrible in the first tournament, there’s no reason to go on.”
But looking back, Cutter has come a long way.
He began fishing in bass tournaments at Harveys Lake when he was 14, joining other anglers on their boats. When he was 16, Cutter bought his first boat and continued to fish in the tournaments at Harveys Lake, logging strong finishes despite lacking the experience and expensive equipment that other anglers used.
“That’s when things clicked and I knew I wanted to do this for a living,” Cutter said. “I made progress every year.”
While the BFL and Costa tournaments are held on larger bodies of water, Cutter said his time fishing at Harveys Lake prepared him for the unknown lakes he would encounter on the tournament trail.
“Everywhere I go there’s also something that applies to fishing at Harveys Lake. I can apply a tactic I learned at the lake to just about every place I’ve fished,” he said.
Cutter’s third-place finish in the BFL is certainly a major achievement in his young angling career, but he said his ability to be consistent is a more important factor.
In four of the five BFL tournaments, Cutter finished in the top 30 with a top placing of 17th at Lake Champlain.
While the consistent finishes in the BFL didn’t equate to a big payday, Cutter said it was more important that he develop as an angler.
“The BFL is more like a training ground. Consistency is my most important goal,” he said. “In the higher tournaments they pay the top 50 places, and I’ve only finished out of the top 50 once in two years. That’s what allows you to keep going.”
Reach Tom Venesky at 570-991-6395 or on Twitter @TomVenesky