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Submitted / The Outlook Reeltown's Cade Wood recently signed a National Letter of Intent to continue his fishing career at Faulkner University. He was joined by, from left, Faulkner fishing coach John Pollard; father Scott Wood; mother Heather Hudson Wood; brother Reed Wood, brother Drake Wood; Reeltown fishing coach Clint Burgess; and Reeltown assistant principal John Wilcox.

When Reeltown first started a bass fishing team, Cade Wood immediately knew he wanted to be a member. That was more than six years ago, and now he’s the first member of the Rebels fishing squad to ink a scholarship to fish at the next level.

Last week, Wood signed with Faulkner University.

Although earning a fishing scholarship is certainly unique, Wood said the process to get recruited on the water wasn’t all that much different.

“It was really similar actually,” Wood said. “We went down on a visit and looked at everything at the school and on the campus. We couldn’t really have any more visits because of the (coronavirus pandemic), but I kept in touch with my coaches. The biggest difference was we couldn’t have a lot of people at my signing, but that’s really it. That was just different because of the circumstances though.”

Another distinction during the recruiting process itself was how coaches got their eyes on Wood. Unlike in other sports, recruiters couldn’t just come to a game or tournament to watch Wood; instead, much of what got him noticed were his stats and standings.

Wood was also a member of the Reeltown baseball team, and ironically, there was a part of him that wanted to play baseball at the next level. But with how far anglers can take the sport of fishing, Wood eventually realized it was a better option for him.

“I kinda thought about it throughout this past year while I was a senior and I realized this would be a better option as far as getting my foot in the door,” Wood said. “I can hopefully take it further than college. Being around all those big tournaments and getting in the door and talking to other people who are big fishermen will be big for me.”

Ultimately, Wood is hoping to become a professional.

Since he was a youngster, Wood has been in the water. His grandfather was really into bass fishing and it was he who encouraged Wood to get into tournament fishing. Growing up in a place with such a plethora of options in terms of places to fish, Wood said he’s gotten a lot of experience in different types of water.

He fishes a lot on Middle Pond as well as spends time on the water on Lake Martin and Lake Talisi.

During his time as an Alabama Student Anglers Bass Fishing Association competitor — ASABFA is the league in which Reeltown competes — he went to several tournaments on Lake Martin. Although he said his specialty is shallow-water fishing, Wood settled into fishing on the deep Martin quite well.

“I prefer fishing in shallow water most definitely,” Wood said. “It’s weird because Martin is such a deep lake but there is really good shallow fishing there too. I just try to find whatever pattern there is from talking to people and just going out and fishing myself and try to stick with it. I don’t really have a set favorite, I guess; it’s just whatever is working.”

Similar to that style, Wood tries to find what’s working during whatever tournament he’s competing in. While some anglers are dead set on a certain spot and will wait for hours until the fish bite, Wood likes to switch up his spots frequently.

“I like to move around quite a lot,” Wood said. “I hit a lot of spots until I find one that’s got fish in it. I just find covering more ground is better for me. It’s just more of getting a feel for everything and see what’s all around. You can tell what certain structure or banks they’re on on that day and that helps you find a pattern; it’s going to be different depending on where you go.”

Although Wood is fairly well traveled in terms of fishing the area, one of the most things he’s looking most forward to at the next level is getting to fish around the country.

“The competition is going to be a lot better too,” Wood said. “It’s just going to be more experienced anglers that I’m going to be up against. I’m really looking forward to getting out to new places too. It will not only just be fun to see different places but it’ll help me if I do end up going pro because a lot of those lakes and places colleges hold their tournaments are on the same trails the pros are fishing.”

In addition to bettering himself on the water, Wood has also hoped to set a good example for his younger siblings who will hopefully carry on the legacy for Reeltown’s fishing squad.

“When he walks up to you, he’s always got a big smile on his face,” Rebel coach Clint Burgess said. “He’s just happy to be there. He’s got two younger brothers that really looked up to him, so he always sets that good example. They want to get involved in fishing now too.

“Cade is just a good guy all the way around; he’s a good student and a good big brother. He just carried himself very well.”

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc.