GREENEVILLE, S.C. – Jacob Foutz, the 19-year-old Bryan College student fishing his first ever Bassmaster Classic didn’t come out high in the standings after the first day of competition, but he still managed to come out ahead of some of the country’s best bass fishing pros. Foutz brought 11 pounds, 15 ounces to the scales after Day One fishing on South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell.
Foutz is the youngest angler in the field. He earned his spot in the Classic by winning the 2017 Carhartt College National Championship.
Before the 7:30 am take-off Wednesday morning Foutz said, “I really got a good night’s sleep last night. I’ve got a few butterflies but I’m not really nervous.”
Foutz started slow, having only landed three small keepers by about 10:30 Friday morning. But as the sun climbed, his pattern pitching docks seemed to improve. He put his fifth bass in the livewell around 11 am and then culled with a sixth not long after.
Around 12:30 he boated a larger fish and very soon after found his biggest fish of the day, a 4 pound largemouth.
“There was one dock that was right on the point of little pocket I was fishing,” said Foutz afterward. “I pulled up to it and threw my jig back there… it fell about a foot and one just crushed it. That ended up being my biggest one. I’m gonna try to expand on that a little bit and see what that gets me.”
Foutz is a reserved young man, but admitted that pulling into the weigh-in arena with spotlights glaring, fog machines spewing smoke and rock music blaring was something he’ll never forget.
“That was incredible. It was just breathtaking,” said Foutz. “It’s something I can’t wait to do again tomorrow.”
The young man is always optimistic about the next day. He believes the experiences of Day One are definitely going to help.
“Tomorrow is going to be a lot cleaner,” he said. “The nerves won’t be quite as high. I’ll be able to make better decisions without second-guessing myself.”
Foutz caught at least 17 keeper bass on Friday, culling up several times.
“Getting bites isn’t the problem. Getting quality bites is the problem,” he said.
Even though he wasn’t on top, the young college student from Charleston, Tenn. beat some of the best in bass fishing on Friday. Amazingly, bass fishing powerhouse Skeet Reese caught ZERO on Friday – the only angler in the field who didn’t bring five bass to the weigh-in stand. Foutz also came out ahead of longtime professional anglers Bobby Lane, Greg Hackney and former Classic winner Randy Howell.
Saturday’s weather forecast on Lake Hartwell calls for a chance of rain or thunderstorms early, then giving away to just clouds for most of the day.
Foutz said, “I think it’s going to help the bite a little because these fish seem to like low light conditions.”
On Sunday the field will be cut to the Top 25 anglers. After Day One Foutz ended in 38th place. However he is only one pound, 15 ounces away from being in the Top 25. One good fish on Saturday could keep him in the competition through Sunday.
“I might spend a little more time on [spotted bass] in the morning and see if I can get a couple of two-pound spots to get the ball rolling,” said Foutz. “But I caught my biggest one out deeper so I’m going to make a few adjustments tomorrow.”