Terry soccer coach casting for pro-fishing dream, offers insight to tournament angling

Published 5:00 pm Friday, February 10, 2023

TERRY — Major League Fishing will soon start to heat up and one Mississippi public school teacher is set to hit the water. Hunter Ketteringham coaches soccer at Terry High School and is a native of Philadelphia, Mississippi. 

He said he will fish all five tournaments held in Mississippi in the Phoenix Bass Fishing League, a circuit in Major League Fishing. Ketteringham will compete as a co-angler this year as he finally has the time and money to pursue a lifelong dream of becoming a professional angler. 

His fishing story began by following his father around, pole in hand. They would fish tournaments together but when he got to college, he did not have the time or resources to keep fishing. However, this year he is pushing off from the dock with a goal to catch fish and improve as an angler. 

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“My dad and I fished the Media Bass tour last year. Tournament bass fishing requires a lot of time and practice,” Ketteringham said. “I don’t think people realize what all goes into it. You can fish a pond and catch a bunch of fish but when you fish big lakes there are so many places the fish could be. It is a big learning curve. On lakes, current and conditions change, the fish move as the seasons change.” 

While there is a lot of learning in becoming a better angler, Ketteringham said it is actually pretty easy to tournament fish in the Phoenix Bass Fishing League. Anglers do not have to have a boat, they just need an entry fee to fish the tournaments. Major League Fishing has a grassroots approach to fishing. Anglers who do well on the local level can move up to bigger tournaments and tours. 

Fishermen who are interested in starting to tournament fish or maybe improve as anglers have a great opportunity locally. Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks operate and run several state parks and state fishing lakes across the state. Lake Lincoln and Calling Panther Lake are two public fishing opportunities. 

Ketteringham said anyone wanting to practice or get better at fishing should learn how to fish locally. Local techniques will help land fish and build confidence. Learn to use frogs, spinner baits and plastics such as Texas-rigged or carolina-rigged worms, lizards and crawfish. Having multiple techniques under your belt will help if you fish as a co-angler. 

“A lot of people think you have to catch fish anywhere, you don’t,” he said. “You do need to practice locally. As a co-angler it can be tough but ultimately, you don’t have to know anything to be a co-angler. You ride with your boater and start fishing. In Major League Fishing, you fish against the co-angler. You have a shot to do well.”

People who have just started fishing might feel frustration as a co-angler because they do not have any control over where they are at. Sometimes, people get comfortable fishing a certain technique and get frustrated when you are not in a position to fish that way, he said. 

Ketteringham said he experienced the same frustration but learned to just fish the best he could. Co-anglers have less stress than the boater does because they do not have to go out and find the fish. 

One fish is all it takes in a tournament to turn a slow, rough day into a good day. A five pound bass could win an angler a check in Mississippi, he said. Positive mindsets help anyone who is either new to tournament fishing or new to fishing in general. 

“You can’t hang your head. It is a grind but that is what is fun about it,” Ketteringham said. “When you go as a co-angler you learn a lot. That is what I am doing this year. I will be learning new techniques.” 

Focused and ready, Ketteringham looks forward to the first tournament of the tour at Ross Barnett on March 4, 2023. Spring weather is here and the water is starting to warm up for perfect fishing conditions. 

Professional fishing conditions have also improved. Major League Fishing offers a more accessible path to becoming a pro angler. Sponsors and social media have helped the competitive sport of fishing grow. 

Ketteringham said he does not have any sponsors but he is a team member of a few companies for this upcoming season. On the water, he represents Gill Fishing, Impulse Rods, Angler Tungsten, Crusher Lures and Vector Hooks. He is buying his first boat from Junior Pearce at Elite Fiberglass Works in Flowood and partnered with Whitehead Financial Group in Brandon. Anglers on high school bass fishing teams such as West Lincoln’s bass fishing team who want to become professionals one day should remember a few things. 

“Learn how to catch fish. If you can’t catch fish it doesn’t matter what you do. Practice and learn. Learn the sponsorship game as well,” he said. “You don’t have to find sponsors. If you catch the fish they will find you. Be careful on social media and remember what you post stays on there. It follows you. Don’t burn a bridge on social media with sponsors. Learn how to create a brand for yourself and approach sponsors with ‘How I can help you.’ If you don’t sell they won’t be interested.” 

While Terry High School does not have a bass fishing team, there is a bass fishing club Ketteringham is active in called Believers Bass Men. 

“We fish tournaments and do a few mission opportunities throughout the year,” Ketteringham said. “One mission they will do this year is bring items, pack them in boxes and send them to retired veterans. Those veterans will receive a box of goodies each month.”

Mississippi’s Phoenix Fishing League events include:

  • Ross Barnett Reservoir, Brandon, March 4, 2023
  • Pickwick Lake, Iuka, April 1, 2023
  • Ross Barnett Reservoir, Brandon, April 29, 2023
  • Columbus Pool, Columbus, May 20, 2023
  • Pickwick Lake, Iuka, September 9-10, 2023 

Do you have a fishing tale or catch you want to share? Email hunter.cloud@dailyleader.com and we will be happy to share your story.