Alabama angler David Gaston earned an invitation to the Bassmaster Elite Series after landing in the top 10 at four Bassmaster Opens stops during 2022. He finished sixth at Ross Barnett Reservoir, sixth at the Upper Chesapeake Bay, third at the Red River and 10th at Lake Hartwell. These high finishes landed Gaston an invitation via the Bassmaster Opens overall Angler of the Year standings.
Although Gaston is only 26 years old, he has paid his dues by competing in 30 Bassmaster Opens since 2016. He had a number of good finishes prior to 2022, but he has also endured his share of stumbles. His consistency last year was mainly due to an improved state of mind.
“I’m maturing as an angler and not letting stuff bother me on the water,” Gaston said. “This sport is more mental than anything.”
Although Gaston grew up fishing, his early outings were mainly for striped bass at Lay Lake. He waded creeks and seined live shad for bait with his father and older brother, William.
“My dad’s name is Bill, but everybody calls him Chopper,” Gaston said. “He never rode a motorcycle, but when he played baseball as a kid he always wore a shirt with a Harley patch.”
The creek outings also included casting rooster tail spinners for redeye bass and pumpkinseeds. While soaking live shad for stripers on Lay Lake, the Gastons would cast Sassy Shad swimbaits, topwater baits and Cordell Red Fins for them. They caught as many spotted bass on the artificial baits as stripers.
When Gaston was 9 years old, his father began fishing local tournaments with him and his brother. Since only two anglers are allowed in the boat during these events, he and his sibling had to alternate weekends.
“All I ever threw growing up was a buzzbait and a pink trick worm,” Gaston said. “I didn’t know anything else. Those tournaments got me obsessed with bass fishing. If I got good grades in school, my dad would buy me bass lures.”
The Gaston gang fished local weekend and club derbies exclusively until Gaston began competing in high school tournaments as a freshman. His father served as his boat captain. In his first year he won a tournament on Lake Eufaula that had a field of 180 boats.
“That fired me up pretty good,” Gaston said. “I won the state championship the next year.”
At age 16 he was one of the youngest anglers to fish BFL tournaments as a boater. He competed in the Alabama division and won the AOY race two years later.
After graduating from Sylacauga High School in 2015 he went to work in the family business, Gaston Construction in Sylacauga, Ala. That year he also began his quest to become a professional angler by fishing the Southern and Northern Bassmaster Opens.
“I did terrible,” he said. “My first Open was at Kissimmee. I caught five bass the first day that weighed less than 4 pounds.”
On his 19th birthday he made the top 10 at the Northern Open on Lake Champlain and caught enough smallmouth bass on a Zara Spook to finish in fifth place. He claims he had no idea what he was doing and caught those fish “by accident.”
Besides the Bassmaster Opens, he also sampled Toyota and Costa events and other professional bass circuits. As with the Opens, he endured a roller coaster of ups and downs.
Last season he committed to fish all three divisions of the Bassmaster Opens. Given his success, it appears Gaston is ready to make his bass fishing dreams come true.
“God’s good grace has allowed me to be where I am.” Gaston said.