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FLW Outdoors

Cade Laufenberg, a 17-year-old high school senior from Stoddard, Wis., caught 45 pounds, 4 ounces of bass over three days to win the 2009 Stren Series Detroit River tournament. His prize is a new Ranger V177 boat with 90-hp outboard. (Photo by Vince Meyer)

High school senior wins co-angler title on Detroit River

Football camp traded for new Ranger 177TR

By Vince Meyer - 25.Jul.2009

TRENTON, Mich. — Cade Laufenberg skipped football camp to fish in a tournament this week. The 17-year-old high school senior expected to take a lot of heat from his buddies when he got home to Stoddard, Wis.

Instead, Laufenberg will get a hearty round of congratulations for winning the Co-angler Division of the Stren Series Central Division tournament on the Detroit River. He did it with a three-day weight of 45 pounds, 4 ounces and soon will take delivery of a new Ranger 177TR , which should qualify as one of the hotter rides among his fishing peers in the La Crosse, Wis., area.

“I’m going to go from sneak-floating on the river to fishing the BFLs as a boater,” said Laufenberg, whose current boat is much older, smaller and slower. “It’s got a leak from a stump I hit a couple times.”

Laufenberg started the tournament with a day-one limit weighing 18 pounds, 12 ounces, which had him in third place. On day two he pulled 11-3 and slipped to fifth.

But on day three the co-anglers in front of him all struggled. First-place John Leader weighed two fish at 3-10 and finished seventh. Second-place Erik Jacques weighed two fish at 8-1 and finished fifth. Third-place David Matual weighed five fish at 12-7 to maintain third, while fourth-place Ron Norris brought in four fish at 10-6 and ended up sixth.

The door was open for Laufenberg, and he went through it big time, weighing a five-fish limit at 15-5 to take over the top spot when it mattered most. But he didn’t have the heaviest sack of the day among co-anglers. That distinction went to Kenny Woods of Hazard, Ky., who had 15-7.

Cade Laufenberg's mother cried when she knew that her son had just won his first major bass tournament. After the tournament the family went east for a vacation in Massachusetts.Behind every successful young fisherman are the people who got him started and excited about the sport. For Laufenberg, those people include, in order, his father, who first took him fishing; Bill Dance, whose TV shows he watched; two friends, who took him fishing; and the Internet. He joined a local junior fishing club and has moved steadily up the tournament ladder, from five BFL tournaments to this, his first Stren Series tournament.

“Knowing I can compete with 163 other anglers, who are from five to 30 years older than me, definitely gets me pumped,” Laufenberg said. “Everyone has that dream of going pro, and hopefully one day I can make it. I have the drive. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get there.”

That new Ranger will certainly help.