Some might call it beginner’s luck. But it could be simply destiny.
The first time Austin Prazak and Andrew Tutt ever shared a boat, they took first place in the Texas State Youth Qualifier Tournament. By virtue, the duo garnered a spot in the 2019 Junior World Championship next month on the Arkansas River in Little Rock.
Prazak, a 14-year-old eighth grader at Hallsville Junior High, took up fishing when he was 10. There wasn’t an instant connection to the sport as Prazak explains.
“It was really boring and I just slept in the boat the entire time,” he said.
Tutt, however, was practically born on the water and fishing runs deep in his blood. The 13-year-old Longview eighth grader’s uncle, Jim, is an established professional on the FLW Tour with five tournament wins and 35 top 10 finishes to his credit.
“I’ve been fishing since I was six and I pretty much took to it from the start,” said Tutt, who approached Prazak to be his fishing partner for the Texas State Youth tourney in June.
Ironically enough the duo’s friendship developed on the baseball diamond and not the water. They became fast friends playing summer league baseball together six years ago.
The instant camaraderie was just as apparent when the first put the boat in water at Lake O’ the Pines for the state youth tournament.
“We hadn’t ever fished together before until the first day of practice at state,” Tutt explained. “I’d fished a tournament the week before with my uncle and I pretty much knew the spots. I thought we’d do well.”
Prazak wasn’t exactly a stranger to tournament fishing, having competed on the Hallsville fishing team.
“I really trusted Andrew. I knew he was gonna put us on the fish. It was our job to go out and catch them,” Prazak said.
Playing to their specific strengths, the pair landed a 5-stringer limit totaling 21.65 pounds. Tutt, who prefers to slow fish using a worm, accounted for three of the five fish, while Prazak, who fishes fast-paced preferring a crank-bait, reeled in the 5.34 pounder which put their team over the top.
“We were the first boat to weigh in. It was getting close to the time limit,” Tutt said. “The boat behind us had 20 pounds. So we knew it was gonna be pretty close.”
Prazak added, “I was just excited and proud we were able to pull this off.”
Working in conjunction with The Bass Federation (TBF) and Fishing League Worldwide (FLW), the 2019 gathering is scheduled to run August 8-10 in North Little Rock, Arkansas.
The 2019 JWC is a two-person team format to include two days of competition, and a third and final cut day by TBF division. Ranking as the sixth-longest river in the United States, the Arkansas River is a major tributary of the Mississippi River.
Prazak and Tutt earned their prestigious slot in the Junior Angler division of the championships. The TBF Junior World Championship is the premier junior fishing tournament in the world and is held annually in conjunction with the Forest Wood Cup. It’s professional fishing’s richest event, according to their website.
“I know I’ll have some nerves going in,” Prazak admitted. “But I’m so excited for this tournament. I know even if we don’t win, it’s going to be a great experience.”
“I got high expectations for us,” Tutt said. “I feel like we’ll do pretty good. Got some pretty good information on where to go and what to do. The Arkansas River is real high and has a lot of challenges.”
The Arkansas River flows to the east and southeast and traverses in addition to its namesake, the states of Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma. This year’s event takes place on Lake Hamilton outside North Little Rock. Weigh-ins will take place at the Wyndham Riverfront.
The tandem plans to arrive Aug. 5 for three days of prefishing. At that time, Tutt, who sits at the front of the boat, will scope out a plan for the weekend.
“I’ll be looking for bait fish, or any activity of fish moving. I look for structure like brush pile or a tree falling into the water,” Tutt. said.
“My faith is completely with Andrew. He’ll get us where we need to be. I’m confident of that,” Prazak said.