Only a handful of young college anglers have earned the right to compete in bass fishing's biggest event the past 48 years. This year, it's Nick Ratliff, an easy-going 22 year old senior majoring in business and marketing at Campbellsville University in Kentucky who will test his youthful but proven ability to catch bass against the world's best.
The Classic takes place March 15-17 on the rivers surrounding Knoxville, Tennessee, and Ratliff was gracious enough to give fishing fans a chance to get to know him better amid a quick Q & A just days before he heads south to East Tennessee.
What is your earliest fishing memory?
Ratliff: Probably my dad and Papaw taking me to my grandparents' house to fish at Kentucky Lake from about the time I could walk.
What's the coolest thing about participating in the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series?
Ratliff: The people I've met, and all the awesome places we've been able to travel to. I've met some of my very best friends through fishing these events.
If you could take us on the perfect fishing trip, where would we go, and how would we catch them?
Ratliff: We'd go to Green River Lake in Central Kentucky in late March and hammer 'em on a big spinnerbait.
What three lures would you list as your all time favorites?
Ratliff: Berkley Digger 25.5 crankbait, Berkley Cane Walker topwater, and a Cumberland Pro Lures spinnerbait.
What music will you be listening to most in your Tundra throughout the tournament year ahead?
Ratliff: Koe Wetzel, Read Southhall and Casey Donahew.
One meal you could eat at least twice a week and never get tired of it?
Ratliff: Anything with pasta.
What do your parents do for a living?
Ratliff: My mom is a waitress, and my dad is a Carhartt wearing siding and aluminum guy.
Tell all of us who love to fish what Carhartt garments you love the most.
Ratliff: Carhartt Gilliam jacket - great for layering, and just an awesome all around jacket for daily wear. Storm Defender rain gear - keeps me warm and dry, but light enough to wear on sunny days without getting too hot. And Carhartt midweight base layers - as an avid waterfowler, and a person that fishes year-round, you learn pretty quick that staying warm starts with quality base layers from Carhartt.
What is your proudest fishing accomplishment?
Ratliff: Qualifying for the 2019 Bassmaster Classic, of course, but mostly that I get to have my family and friends there to share the experience and cheer me on.
What excites you most about competing in the Bassmaster Classic?
Ratliff: The fact this river system contains a lot of water really similar to what I've grown up fishing, and it's only four hours from home. So again, I get to share it with the people I love most.