Gone Fishing

Lujano turns lifelong hobby into competitive sport

Kaete Schmidt

More stories from Kaete Schmidt


Lujano holds bass he caught while fishing in his Grandma’s pond.

Typically thinking about the average high school sport, football, basketball or baseball might be some of the options that come to mind. On the contrary, sophomore Cole Lujano has turned his hobby of fishing into a sport.

Starting from a young age, Lujano developed a fondness for fishing. What started as a family activity slowly turned into a love of Lujano’s. In the summer, Lujano tends to spend at least two days of his week fishing either by himself or with family members.

“Having success is what got me into fishing. Success is the most rewarding thing. Fishing with friends when you’re just having a good time is great,” Lujano said.

Throughout the years, Lujano has fished in many states, including Wyoming which is the farthest he has traveled. With all of these different experiences, Lujano has caught a wide variety of fish, his favorite was the biggest fish he has caught: a 65 pound flathead.

“I was extremely excited because I was surprised and was not expecting that to happen. With flatheads, I use a different type of fishing. So, you tie a rope and a hook to a tree and you stick the fish on the hook and you put it in the water, the tree is your pole. So, you ride in the boat up to the tree and pull it out,” Lujano said.

Through all of the practice, starting at a young age and competing, Lujano has certain fishing methods he prefers over others. One of these fishing methods is called, ‘Flipping and Pitching’.

“So it’s a soft bait like the squishy creature baits that look like bugs and then you have a hook with a weight on the hook. It’s called flipping because you take your pole and lure and kind of pitch it or flip it under a tree or something,” Lujano said. “Topwater is another one of my favorite kinds of fishing because it is the most exciting. When you see a fish jump out of the water to eat your bait it is exciting and surprising.”

After fishing for so many years, Lujano knew that the hobby was something he wanted to continue to do, although in a more competitive environment. Lujano began entering into contests three years ago at the age of 13.

“I like competing and I like fishing so I thought I should just put them together,” Lujano said.

Despite going to school at Newton, Lujano took an opportunity to reach out to the Buhler High School’s fishing coach about joining their team.

“I did a few [tournaments] individually but eventually I emailed the coach and I signed up. The highest I have placed is third, although I have only gone to three or four tournaments on this team. I have been on it for about seven months. There is usually about 50 people and about 30 teams at each competition,” Lujano said.

Fishing differs from the typical high school sport in a variety of ways, starting with the fact that there are no practices. The participants are simply expected to find their own time to practice and then show up to the tournaments. In these tournaments every participant fishes and weighs in what they catch at the end of the day. The team with the highest weight is the winner.

In addition to not having practices, Lujano has the opportunity to win a range of prizes such as money, rods and fishing gear. The winners also can qualify for future more competitive tournaments.

“Fishing is actually a sport, and you can win lots of money through fishing,” Lujano said. “If you can compete at it then it is a sport.”

While Lujano is still at the beginning of his high school fishing career, he hopes in the years to come to eventually join a college fishing team and further improve his skills.

“I have looked at K-State and Oklahoma. I have talked to the K-State coach and he said that they are interested in me, but will need to look more into it,” Lujano said.

In order to become a successful fisher to compete in these tournaments and pursue fishing in college, Lujano believes that practice is the best way to improve.

“Lots of practice [makes a successful fisher]. You practice casting, feeling the difference between a tree a rock, grass, a bite. It is very difficult to tell,” Lujano said. “You just have to go out there and fish. Or you can go out in the winter time and just go on a tree and feel the difference between a tree and a rock and all of that stuff so then when you’re actually in a tournament you know what is what. Practice. Just fish as much as you can.”

Although practice plays a big part in fishing as well as multiple other sports, Lujano finds that adaption has also played a large role in improving his fishing technique.

“The ability to adapt and change if something is not working whether it be lures, line, or technique,” Lujano said.