From getting close to a state championship in high school football, fishing national tournaments, being named a high school bass fishing All-American, 22-year-old Cade Fortenberry continues to add to his accomplishments as a member of the Nicholls State University Bass Fishing Team.
Fortenberry’s highest finish as a collegiate bass angler was fourth with Cameron Gautreau in March 2019 at Toledo Bend at the B.A.S.S. Louisiana College State Championship. They were trying to become the second straight Colonels team to win a state title.
The Prairieville bass angler vividly remembers a near-miss in the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series opener the first week of March 2021 at Lake Hartwell near Anderson, South Carolina. He and Landon Baudoin, of Des Allemands, were in the hunt for a big win after the first day with a limit weighing 17 pounds, 6 ounces. At the halfway point they were in fourth place. However, Lake Hartwell’s bigger bass didn’t cooperate for them the second day and they weighed four for 6-3 pounds and a two-day total of 23 pounds, 9 ounces, for 48th in the 261-boat field. The Colonels caught those fish on a Delta Lures Thunder Jig. To this day, Fortenberry still thanks Delta Lures owner Fred King of LaPlace for supplying them with lures.
Baudoin, a Hahnville High School grad who owns Baudoin Bait Co., a small soft plastic lures business, has been his tournament partner for a year. Fortenberry said they make a good team.
“Yeah, we do. I’m more of a power fisherman. He’s more of a finesse fisherman, so we complement each other,” he said about Baudoin, who’s majoring in petroleum engineering and safety.
Fortenberry and Baudoin finished 12th on Jan. 21 at the MLF’s Abu Garcia College Fishing Southern Conference Tournament at Toledo Bend. They just missed the cut to qualify for nationals with three bass weighing 10 pounds, 12 ounces, all from brush piles in 15-foot depths on Delta Lures football jigs.
As of mid-January, he had a light schedule of college bass fishing tournaments. Fortenberry miscalculated the deadline for entering Bassmaster events so was put on “wait lists” for that circuit. Baudoin and he will fish the Bassmaster College Series Wild Card tournament June 17-18 at Logan Martin Lake in Alabama, which has automatic entry for anglers unable to get into a regular-season event.
It’s good timing with spring classes at an end for the Colonels.
“I’ll be able to go scout,” he said.
Four months after he started at offensive tackle in the St. Amant Gators’ Class 5A quarterfinal state playoff loss to West Monroe, Fortenberry was named a Bassmaster High School All-Stater in Louisiana. The best was yet to come.
In April 2017, he was one of 12 named to the Bassmaster High School All-American Fishing Team. B.A.S.S. cited his off-the-water work representing the Ascension Anglers taking part in multiple cleanup days, providing relief aid for 2016 flood victims in southwest Louisiana and volunteering to help run the Angling Against Autism Team Bass Fishing Tournament.
Fortenberry became part of history that year for Louisiana. It was the first time the state boasted two All-Americans at the same time. He and Colby Miller of Elmer, who was a junior at Oak Hill High School, earned the distinction in 2017.
Fortenberry’s All-American status also gave him a chance to fish with Bassmaster Elite Series pro Koby Kreiger of Alva, Florida, in a special Bassmaster High School All-American Bass Tournament held in conjunction with the 2017 Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest.
His hobby is making custom fishing rods, mostly for family and friends. In early January, Fortenberry was building four of them for a University of Louisiana-Monroe softball player, senior Kennedy Page, who was a classmate at St. Amant. She planned to sell the fishing rods in a fundraising auction for the team.
Fortenberry, who won two high school state tournament qualifiers in his high school career, competed in three high school bass fishing tournaments with a national title on the line each time. He came close to winning it all in July 2015 when he and Braden Blanchard finished runners-up at the three-day 2015 Costa Bassmaster High School National Championship at Kentucky Lake.
Unlike many other teams, the St. Amant High School bass anglers ignored offshore ledges and fished shallow. They were 11 pounds off the pace going into Day 3, then rallied to finish second with 51 pounds, 15 ounces.
It was a proud day for the Sportsman’s Paradise because Justin Watts and Alex Heintze led wire-to-wire. The Baton Rouge-based Livingston Parish Bassmasters team finished the deal with 22 pounds, 2 ounces, for a total of 66 pounds.
There were 132 two-man college teams representing 37 states and Ontario, Canada. They competed for $75,000 in scholarships and prizes.
Fortenberry used his $2,000 scholarship from B.A.S.S. to enroll at Nicholls State University.
He is scheduled to graduate in December. After that, he is hopeful of attending a Physician Assistant school.
He’s certainly eyeing bass fishing post-college but said, “I want to get my schooling done first, then start fishing Bassmaster Opens. I’d love to get to the Elites. It’s all depend on family first. If I was able to do it, I’d love to do it.”
Fortenberry got hooked on bass fishing when he was a boy thanks to a neighbor, Garrett Strickland. Fortenberry’s father, Gilbert Fortenberry, was an accomplished saltwater angler whose 8.65-pound speckled trout won a boat, motor and trailer in CCA-Louisiana’s STAR Tournament in 2003.
The elder Fortenberry sold that boat and, after he, too, got hooked on bass fishing, then eventually sold his own 22-foot long Champion Bay Boat to buy a Phoenix with a 200-h.p. Yamaha SHO he and his son still run.
The bass angler started fishing tournaments as a boy with the Junior Southwest Bassmasters of Denham Springs under the leadership of Jim and Cindy Breaux.
“They do a really good job setting you up for the future,” he said. “I owe a lot of my success to Jim and Cindy Breaux. They do a good job over there. They’ve had multiple anglers do well.”
Count Fortenberry as one of them.
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