Missouri’s Cody Huff took a quantum leap in his professional bass fishing career when he clinched the 2021 Bassmaster Opens Central Division points title. The top three year-end point leaders in all three Opens divisions receive an invite to compete as Bassmaster Elite Series anglers the following year.
By qualifying for the 2022 Elite Series, Huff is right on schedule for his dream of making a living casting for bass. The 24-year-old got a fast start by winning the 2019 Bassmaster College Bracket at Watts Bar as a member of Bethel University’s fishing team. This achievement earned him a berth to the 2020 Bassmaster Classic, paid entry fees to the 2020 Bassmaster Opens and the use of a Toyota truck and a Nitro boat for one year.
His 2020 season was a roller coaster. His best and worst finishes came in the Central Division, with fifth place at the Arkansas River and 158th place at Sam Rayburn. There was no letdown in the Central Division for 2021. He finished 25th at Pickwick Lake, fifth at Smith Lake and eighth at Grand Lake to become the points champion.
One of the first people Huff talked to after the Grand Lake tournament was legendary Bassmaster pro Rick Clunn. Both anglers live in Ava, Mo., and they have known each other since Huff was a freshman in high school.
“He was all exited that I’d made the Elites,” Huff said. “We talk once a week. He has really helped me kind of develop the right mindset.”
Clunn may be the most cerebral bass angler the sport has ever seen, even to the point of applying quantum physics to his bass fishing. His advice to Huff is basically to control what can be controlled and to roll with things that can’t be controlled so they don’t derail you.
Huff has been fishing as long as he can remember. While growing up in Ava, his father, Shannon; grandfather, Leon Cardell; and great grandfather, Junior Huff, often took him to Bull Shoals and Table Rock. His father competed in local weeknight and weekend tournaments. At around age 6 Huff began teaming up with his dad for these derbies as soon as he could cast a spinning outfit by himself.
At Ava High School Huff competed on the football, baseball and basketball teams. There was no fishing team, so Huff talked the school’s athletic director into letting him fish Missouri’s state high school championship in 2013 at Table Rock. Huff won the tournament, which prompted the school to start its own bass fishing team.
As a member of the fishing team at Bethel University, Huff sampled bass waters across the country and learned new fishing methods from other anglers. These experiences provided a firm foundation for his quest to become a professional bass angler, as they have for many other collegiate anglers.
Given Huff’s success in college and with the Bassmaster Opens, it’s likely he will be able to roll with whatever challenges the Elite Series throws at him.
Huff’s sponsors include Bass Pro Shops, Nitro, True Timber Camo, Rapala, Garmin, Toyota, Carhartt, Missile Baits, Mercury Marine, Power-Pole, Boatlogix and Gorilla Grip Gloves.