Why would Justin Atkins and Wes Logan not be running mates? Both followed a methodical, step-by-step approach to earning a spot in the Bassmaster Elite Series, avoiding the temptation to skip a step, even as success came early and often. Putting in the work, gaining experience and similar personalities qualifiy them for the Bro Series.
Atkins, 31, followed a methodical path to the top, first as a member of the Mississippi State University bass fishing team. He credits the Bassmaster College Series for laying the foundation for the future. From there, he found success on the FLW Tour, winning the 2017 Forrest Wood Cup. He qualified for the Elite Series by finishing second in the 2020 Bassmaster Opens Angler of the Year race.
Logan, 26, followed a similar path. He grew up near Birmingham, Ala., honing his bass fishing skills on the string of Coosa River fisheries, including Neely Henry Lake, Lake Logan Martin and Lay Lake. Tournaments run year round, and competition is intense for that reason. Logan competed at the regional level, then advanced to national events, eventually reaching the Basspro.com Bassmaster Opens Series.
Here is how their parallel paths merged at the Elite Series.
How did you meet?
Justin: “In 2018, I met Wes during his rookie year on the FLW Tour. That was in my second year. Scott Canterbury introduced us.”
Wes: “My rookie season was his second, and we got really close about midway through the year. He’s older than me, but we are near enough in age that we really relate well in a lot of ways. We think on the same level.”
What made you decide to be running mates?
Justin: “We quickly hit it off during dinner with Scott. That led to going deer hunting and fun fishing trips. Then came a lot of strategy discussions at tournaments. We just really click, and here we are now.”
Wes: “We think alike, fish for fun together and spend a lot of time on our hunting lease. We talk every day, so it just made sense to work together. We started rooming together at the Opens and decided to keep it going if we made the Elite Series.”
How do you work together?
Justin: “We try and divide the water, split it up and decipher what is going on. Then we evaluate which part of the water has potential, which we should eliminate, and try to learn the entire playing field as quickly as possible.”
Wes: “We fish the opposite of each other, so it allows us to leverage our different skills. Sometimes we go to the same areas, try our different skills. Other times we fish opposite ends of the lake. We put our heads together and go from there.”
Describe him as a competitor.
Justin: “Wes is super competitive. He’s courteous on the water, and not overly aggressive. He lets it get to him when he underperforms, so I tell him to shake it off; you’re going to have bad days. I don’t try to put that flame out too much, because that’s what makes us do what we do. You must find that happy medium, and I feel like he’s got that balanced really well.”
Wes: “He gets really serious, gets his game face on.”
What’s he like without the game face?
Justin: "Wes can be a goober. He’s funny, a lot of fun to be around. At the St. Johns River, all we had was Roku to get TV shows, and we binge watched old episodes of “Family Feud.” We joked around a lot about that, trying to guess the answers."
Wes: "Justin is goofy. If he says I’m goofy, then I don’t know what you’d call him. In Palatka, all we could find on the TV was reruns of “Family Feud.” He yelled at the TV, answering the questions. That’s him.”
What do admire about him?
Justin: “His ability to wake up in the morning and be fired up with the competitive drive, early on. I am the world’s worst about getting out of the bed, getting my game face on. His alarm goes off 30 minutes before everyone else’s. He is the first one up, at the ramp early, game on.”
Wes: "Justin is a good Christian dude, high morals and a great family guy. Justin is passionate about the things in life that are meaningful to him, especially his family.”
What is something about him that most people might not know?
Justin: “He can fall asleep sitting straight up in a chair. So, I guess all that getting up before everyone else eventually catches up with him.”
Wes: “If fishing didn’t work out for Justin, then he could be a chef. He’s got little secrets that he uses with his recipes, like adding brown sugar to his spaghetti, which is delicious. He’s a really good cook.”