NSU’s Tanner Underwood eyes bigger prizes than fishing trophies

Northwestern State University’s Tanner Underwood, left, and his father, Jimmie Underwood of Bossier, had a good day on the water in March on Grand Bayou in Coushatta.

As a successful young college bass angler at Northwestern State University, Tanner Underwood is grounded and under no illusions of grandeur about one day making a living as a bass pro.

The Bossier City native will be a sophomore this fall balancing studies and bass fishing. The scale will lean heavier to the side of studies but he’ll enjoy every minute he can on the water, where he had several memorable tournament outings as a high schooler.

NSU came calling via a letter after he teamed with Benton Tigers Fishing Team member Peyton Grantham to finish second in a 2018 FLW High School Fishing Toledo Bend Lake Open. The offer to join the NSU Fishing Team was put to good use with multiple other academic scholarships after graduating from Benton High School.

Priorities set

The son of Jimmie and Jennifer Underwood is studying to enter the nursing profession. In so many ways he made it clear he is a student first, a student/athlete second.

“I’ll try to fish as many (collegiate bass tournaments) as I can, as much as school allows me to,” he said. “I’ve just got to do what I’ve got to do.”

This summer he’s making money bush hogging and weed eating the property at UOP Honeywell, a chemical plant in Blanchard.

He enjoyed fishing three collegiate bass tournaments as a freshman at NSU, he said. He teamed with Parker Elliott, a Texan who grew up near Lake O’ the Pines, and probably will fish with him again as a sophomore, he said, if Elliott doesn’t transfer to a bigger school.

His post-college plans right now don’t include trying any of the major bass fishing tournaments or circuits.

“Nothing wild,” he said, noting he’ll probably settle down and start a family. “I’ll just go fish whenever I can, take the kids fishing, just have a good life, teach my kids the sport I love.”

Benton High School’s Tanner Underwood, left, and Peyton Grantham made their last high school event together a memorable one by winning an open tournament in June 2021 with 22 pounds, 15 ounces, at Lake O’ the Pines in Texas.

He’s proud of his high school bass fishing days with Grantham.

“We’ve been best friends growing up. Us being best friends is what helped us click and get along so well,” he said.

The 2020-21 BHS Angler of the Year and Grantham enjoyed the highlight of their high school fishing career together with a hard-earned win in Major League Fishing’s U.S. Army High School Fishing tournament at Lake O’ the Pines in 2021. Their five-bass limit weighed 22 pounds, 15 ounces, just enough to hold off the runners-up from the Hallsville, Texas, High School Bobcats, Noah Jarrett and Cooper Mayes, who had a limit weighing 22 pounds, 4 ounces.

Underwood, 18, considers Cypress Lake and Black Bayou Reservoir his home lake, a place he visits when he wants to get away and “fun fish.” The lake’s a few miles northeast of Benton High School, where he was on the fishing team five years starting as an eighth-grader.

Caney Lake love

His favorite lake to fish is Caney Lake, even during the dog days of summer in July.

“I love fishing Caney,” he said.

His summertime experience pays off each July at Caney Lake. He’ll start fishing early with a black Spro Bronzeye Popping Frog or a white or chrome Yellow Magic.

“I try to fish topwater stuff. As it gets hotter in the day I go out to fish deeper points with grass with a Carolina rig. I fish for offshore fish,” he said.

He probes five to 12-foot depths while positioning his boat in 10 to 12-foot depths and casting to the shallow side. His C-rig setup has 15-pound test Seaguar fluorocarbon line tied to a 3-foot long, 12-pound test Seaguar fluorocarbon leader. Underwood’s C-rigged soft plastic of choice is a watermelon/red Zoom Centipede.

Tanner Underwood’s PB is this 9-pound “hawg” he caught July 11, 2017, while fishing with his grandfather, G.M. Dodson of Plain Dealing, and two younger brothers, Tyler and Tate, on Ivan Lake.

One of his favorite memories is from neither Cypress Lake and Black Bayou Reservoir or Caney Lake. He was fishing with his maternal grandfather, G.M. Dodson of Plain Dealing, and his younger brothers, Tyler and Tate, at scenic Ivan lake, west of Cotton Valley and northeast of Ivan, one mid-summer day in 2017.

He had a watermelon/red GYCB Senko tied on when he stuck something that pulled back and then some. It was a heckuva fight before landing his personal best, a 9-pounder.

“It was pretty cool. My grandpa got down on the deck of the boat and grabbed it,” Underwood said.

While Tyler is following in his footsteps as a high school angler, Tate is concentrating on baseball like his oldest brother, who was a pitcher for the BHS Tigers.

Underwood’s competitiveness showed on the mound and on the water. He got into bass fishing at a young age on trips with his father, much of the time on Lake Fork near Quitman, Texas, where the family had a camp.

“I just got hooked on it,” he said.

He’ll always love fishing, but he also knows the odds of making it a profession are stacked against anybody. He’s got his priorities together. And that’s a formula for success on the water and in life.

About Don Shoopman 493 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.

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