Cut Off native Lance Reynolds had a huge year as a professional angler in 2015.
If recent results are any indication, he’s not going to be letting up any time soon.
Reynolds is already off to a strong start in 2016, currently ranking at the top of the Rudy’s Redfish Series standings for the young season.
Together with team captain Austin Angel, Reynolds’ team recently won the 2016 St. Bernard Parish Pro Series, weighing one pound more than Paul Braly and Bartt Caron, who finished second.
By taking home the title, Reynolds won a $40,000 cash prize. It’s something that he said still feels surreal – being given the opportunity to make money, while fishing.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect to be considered a semi-pro angler,” Reynolds said last season. “I started fishing tournaments because of the competitive nature and the opportunity to compete against the very best. But boy, has it been a fun ride so far.”
Fun, indeed. Reynolds’ ascent in the fishing world has come at warp speed.
A former All-District multi-sport athlete at South Lafourche High School, Reynolds said he’s been a fisherman his whole life – a trait that’s not uncommon for people in the area.
He first tried his hand at competition fishing a couple years ago when he competed in Pat Malone’s Redfish Elite Team Series.
Reynolds said he loved the challenges that came with competitive fishing. He also loved the outlet that it gave him to stay in a competitive setting.
As the Malone Elite Team Series changed its format and shifted to one-man teams, Reynolds said he became even more intrigued and dedicated to the idea of competing on a more full-time basis.
“I wanted in,” he said. “Coming from such a competitive background playing sports, redfishing allows me to continue this competitive nature against the very best that there is to offer. It’s amazing.”
So since then, Reynolds has been on the circuit, competing in the Yellowfin Elite Series, which hosts more than 40 of the best fishermen in the United States against one another in individual competition throughout three-day tournaments.
Reynolds has had immediate success. At the Crawfish Festival in Chalmette last year, Reynolds led throughout, before finishing as the runner-up on the final day.
He lost by the narrowest of margins.
“I came up seven one-hundredths of a pound short of winning the event and the $75,000 prize,” Reynolds said with a laugh. “But finishing second was still a great experience for me.”
Lately, he hasn’t been finishing short.
At the Mississippi Major last June, Reynolds weighed nine fish at 82.91 pounds. That outlasted the mark set by Reynold’s friend and fellow South Lafourche native Nicky Savoie, who is also on the fishing circuit. Savoie finished second.
Reynolds said the moment that he won his first title is something that he’s never going to forget – a moment that he ranks as one of the best times of his life.
When given the check for $75,000, Reynolds broke down in tears, thanking his parents and grandparents for all of the opportunities that they’ve afforded him in his life.
It was a speech that Reynolds said was 100 percent from the heart.
As he made it, several of his colleagues on the tour embraced him – a sign of respect for how powerful the words were.
“I’m good with second place today,” Savoie said after the event. “If I had won this event and stolen his thunder and caused folks to never hear what that boy just said, I couldn’t have lived with myself.”
Reynolds also won an open tournament in Leeville last July, which helped him take momentum into the 2016 season.
Now that he’s back on the water, he’s still on fire, earning the St. Bernard title in early March.
Reynolds hopes to stay strong in the Yellowfin Series, as well, which begins from April 28-30 in Port Arthur, Texas.
He said his goal for the season is to accumulate enough points to win Angler of the Year – an honor he narrowly missed last season. It’s an honor that he also “can’t believe” he’s competing for.
“The people you meet and compete against here become your friends, and it’s just a great thing,” Reynolds said. “It’s something that I think we all enjoy doing and are very fortunate to be a part of.”