Local angler enjoying big pro success

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A Cut Off native is among making a huge name for himself as a professional angler.

South Lafourche High School graduate Lance Reynolds has experienced a great deal of success this season on the Yellowfin Elite Series – a fast-growing tour that crowns the best redfish anglers around the country.

Through five events, Reynolds has been at the top of the leaderboard more often than not, recording two victories, one runner-up and four Top 5 finishes. His victories have come in back-to-back events – one at an event in Gulfport from June 11-13 and the other in Leeville from July 9-11.

For his successes, Reynolds has earned $91,250 in winnings for the 2015 season – the most of any angler on the fishing tour.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect to be considered a semi-pro angler,” Reynolds said. “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.”

Reynolds has been an angler for his whole life, even if doing it competitively is something he just started doing in adult life.

An athlete in high school who said he’s always loved competition and challenges, Reynolds said that he got his start at competitive fishing a few years ago on Pat Malone’s Redfish Elite Team Series.

“When he started the first-ever single man series, I wanted in,” Reynolds said.

So from there, Reynolds joined the Yellowfin Elite Series, which pits 40 of the best professional fishermen in the country against one another in a man-versus-man three-day tournament.

Only one fisherman is allowed per boat, and the person with the most weight on board at the final weigh-in is crowned the champion.

Penalties are given to anglers who weigh dead fish, which adds strategy and other tactics to each tournament.

In the Yellowfin Elite Series, anglers fish in three major events and three open events per year. The tour crowns an Angler of the Year based on points that are accumulated throughout the season.

He said that being able to fish at so many places and against so many people is a thrill that’s hard to explain. Reynolds said that the sport allows him to channel his inner linebacker and remain active in athletic competition like he did as a football player when he was in school.

“What an awesome experience this is,” Reynolds 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.”

And from his start on the tour, Reynolds has been successful. At the Crawfish Festival in Chalmette, Reynolds was in the lead going into the final day, and lost by a whisker – literally a miniscule amount.

“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.”

He’s been winning ever since.

At the Mississippi major in June, Reynolds weighed nine fish for a total of 82.91 pounds. That was enough to outlast opponent and good friend, fellow South Lafourche native Nicky Savoie, who finished second.

Reynolds said to earn his first victory was a moment that he’ll never forget. When on the podium and handed his winner’s check for more than $75,000, the local angler thanked his parents and grandparents in an emotional tribute that left many at the weigh-station in tears.

“If I had won this event and stolen his thunder and caused folks to never hear what that boy just said, I couldn’t live with myself today,” Savoie said of Reynold’s speech and victory. “I’m good with second today.”

Reynolds followed up the Major title with a victory in an open tournament in Leeville in July. He weighed 15 fish for 119.29 pounds to outlast Paul Dufrene, who finished second with 116.39 pounds.

The next event on the tour will be Aug. 13-15 in Galveston, and Reynolds said he plans to be there. The chance to compete and do something he loves is something he wouldn’t miss for the world.

“The people you meet and compete against 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.”

Lance ReynoldsAndrea Main