LAY LAKE, Ala. — Pell City High School grinded out a victory in a "day to remember" at the Alabama B.A.S.S. Nation Championship on Lay Lake. Hayden Bartee and Zeke Gossett caught 5 fish weighing 15.29 pounds on a crisp fall day in central Alabama. Seventy boats left the dock in the morning, more than twice the number from last year, according to the Alabama B.A.S.S. Nation.
The win didn’t come easy for Bartee and Gossett. Their first fish came around 9 a.m. upriver by the dam on a topwater. The bite was better late morning, concluding with a 3-pounder around 1:30 p.m. that gave them the winning bag. Bartee says he used a Strike King spinnerbait and Big Bite soft plastic for flipping.
Coach and father Curtis Gossett had a front row seat, and he says it wasn’t an easy cruise to victory.
“It’s tough to watch your son struggle. Watching them getting bites and missing them is harder than just not getting bites.” Gossett says he watched his son and friend grind it out though, not letting the adversity get to them.
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Ryan Shields and Austin Hale of Hazel Green High finished a close second place with 14.37 pounds.
“By 8 a.m., we had 3 fish and 12 pounds,” Ryan Shields said, “It got real slow after that, but we added a few and ended up with 14.”
Robbie Shields, another coach and father combination, says the team caught their fish on a ChatterBait in the morning and flipping a jig under boathouses in the afternoon.
Both teams advance to the B.A.S.S. High School Championship next summer at a location to be determined. By winning this event, Pell City will get to participate in the Bassmaster Classic High School Exhibition, which will allow them to weigh in on the iconic Bassmaster Classic stage.