Catching fish in all kinds of waters is key for French Settlement duo

Samuel Cobb Jr., right, and Destin Morales are all smiles on the national stage where they weighed five bass for 17 pounds, 13 ounces, including a 7 ½-pounder, on Day 1 of the 2022 Bassmaster High School National Championship in August at Lake Hartwell in South Carolina. (Photo courtesy Livingston Parish Bassmasters)

Two Livingston Parish Bassmasters members left their comfort zone in February. As soon as they arrived at Lay Lake in Alabama, Samuel Cobb Jr. and Destin Morales, both of French Settlement, began pre-fishing for the Bassmaster High School Series tournament. The two friends and fishing buddies ended up with 10 pounds below the winning weight, but had proved they can end up on the leaderboard away from Louisiana.

They hope to return to nationals this year, using that experience to their advantage. Cobb and Morales, who began competing as seventh graders with the Jr. Southwest Bassmasters of Denham Springs (and still fish with the bass club) already are double-qualifiers for this year’s Louisiana High School B.A.S.S. Nation State Championship on April 22-23 out of Doiron’s Landing, Stephensville. The French Settlement High School juniors’ goal is to walk the national stage again.

“I personally like going to new places and fishing like we fish back home … in the back of creeks and 1 or 2 feet of water,” Cobb said.

Adjust to new waters

Nevertheless, they quickly adjust to new waters, Morales said. That’s because the team does its homework before each test on the road, he said.

Case in point was last year during nationals at Lake Hartwell, where they finished in the Top 10 of the Bassmaster High School National Championship. They chased largemouths rather than smallies and found those quality bass in the back of a creek they had to “jump” in.

Each dad alternates as captain. Samuel Cobb Sr. drives them around in his Bullet 21XRS while Destin Morales Sr., a 38-year-old supervisor at CF Industries Inc., has the pair fishing in an 18-foot Triton with a 150 Mercury. They have been friends since high school.

The team rode in the Morales boat Day 1 of the three-day event on Lake Hartwell in mid-August 2022. The prop shaft bent after hitting a hard shallow spot, so they fished the last two days in the Bullet. They turned in an impressive ninth-place finish worth $750 apiece in scholarship money at Lake Hartwell. Morales boasted the biggest bass of the tournament, a 7-pound, 8-ounce “hawg” on Day 1, which gave each scholarship money of $200. Cobb caught the big’un on a Whopper Plopper.

“It was a pretty crazy experience,” he said. “We’re in a little canal that wasn’t much wider than the boat. It hit the Whopper Plopper in the middle of the canal. Then it went into a bunch of treetops. I was using 12-pound line. I was fighting it for a good minute. It finally came out.”

Work paying off

The lure of out-of-state competition drew them back to Florida earlier this year for a Bassmaster High School Series tournament in January on the Harris Chain of Lakes. During that tournament the Louisianans were recruited by Florida’s Webber International University Fishing Team, which offered to sign both of them after their senior year with a scholarship of $40,000 each. While they think that over, they continue to focus on fishing wherever they go.

“It’s pretty fun fishing new places and learning and adapting to something that isn’t in their wheelhouse,” said the elder Cobb, a construction manager who celebrates his 39th birthday in April. The young bass anglers can hold their own in the Sportsman’s Paradise, too. In addition to seventh in the state tournament last year, they won the LHSBN North Division tournament on the Red River in October 2021.

Morales and Cobb show two of their favorite bass catching weapons. (Photo courtesy Bassmaster/Dalton Tumblin)

Also, they qualified for last year’s national appearance by notching a seventh-place with 14.05 pounds the first week of May in the LHSBN state championship tournament on the Ouachita River out of Monroe.

When the juniors aren’t fishing away tournaments in April, they target bass in their favorite home waters, Tchefuncte River and Lake Verret. Young Morales likes to fish both,  but prefers the Tchefuncte River, where he catches bass consistently on 3/8-ounce black/blue Chatterbaits and his own homemade spinnerbaits, which are nameless for the moment. He hopes to sell them one day. He likes to fish grassy areas and cypress trees in shallow water in the Rice Fields area.

Cobb targets Lake Verret, namely the Crackerhead. The same year he caught his PB, an 8-4, at Lay Lake he caught a 6- to 7-pounder in the Crackerhead. His most productive technique is flipping Speed Craws around cypress trees there.

About Don Shoopman 563 Articles
Don Shoopman fishes for freshwater and saltwater species mostly in and around the Atchafalaya Basin and Vermilion Bay. He moved to the Sportsman’s Paradise in 1976, and he and his wife June live in New Iberia. They have two grown sons.