Moody sergeant 'hooked' to competitive fishing

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Eric Schloeffel
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
A Moody sergeant's dedication to bass fishing recently earned him a spot as one of Georgia's top anglers and an opportunity to compete in a high-stakes, professional-grade event. 

Master Sgt. Randy Cnota, 347th Operations Support Squadron, beat out more than 400 other anglers and placed third in a Georgia bass fishing competition at Lake Seminole, Ga. The high placement allowed the sergeant to compete on a team with other top Georgia anglers against teams from six southern states. 

At this event, known as a divisional championship, Sergeant Cnota received the highest ranking of all the Georgian anglers on his team. The next step is a national championship tournament where the sergeant will compete against 14 of the best bass fishers throughout the southern region for a spot in a high-profile, televised fishing tournament, said Sergeant Cnota. 

"I'm very excited about playing in the national competition; it's almost overwhelming at times because there are only a small handful of people who get to this level," said the sergeant. "Thousands of anglers all over the United States dream of getting to play in this tournament, and I'm standing on the verge of making it a possibility." 

The prize for winning a tournament on this scale is $500,000 and includes the opportunity for lucrative endorsements and other perks, said Sergeant Cnota. While the sergeant currently has his eyes on the prize, he started his fishing experiences as a fun hobby to pass the time away. 

"As a kid, I was fascinated with fish and doing whatever it took to yank them out of the water," said the Southern California native. "I would sit on the bank and throw my line in to catch whatever would bite." 

At Sergeant Cnota's first duty assignment at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., a friend showed him the ropes of competitive angling. Since that assignment 19 years ago, Sergeant Cnota has been hooked into this "lifestyle," he said. 

"I've always been a very competitive person, but to be honest, I'm not the greatest at sports," said Sergeant Cnota. "I've played them all but never really excelled. Once I got into competitive fishing, I started winning angler of the year with several different clubs." 

This positive reinforcement led the sergeant to seek out the higher echelons of competition he enjoys today. But despite his desire for competition, Sergeant Cnota still enjoys the simple task of getting into the water with a boat and throwing a line just to see what bites. 

"I love to be out fishing on the water, regardless of the location," he said. "I always fish at Banks Lake several miles from base, and the locals swear there is such lousy fishing there. For most it is, but I enjoy the challenge of finding out fish behavior and see where they are hiding." 

Perhaps one of the main motivations for Sergeant Cnota to pursue competitive angling is an opportunity to be his own boss after he retires from active-duty. The sergeant already has served more than 20 years and hopes he can turn his hobby into a career in post-Air Force life. 

"As long as I've been a competitive angler, I've considered what it would be like to do this for a living," said Sergeant Cnota. "I plan on positioning myself to where I can be either a professional fisher or guide other anglers, or a combination of both. I don't want a regular job; I want to be my own boss doing what I love."