Without knowing it at the time, Dale Hightower and Harvey Horne were destined to join the Bro Series fraternity, long before their careers merged at the highest level of competitive bass fishing.
Horne and Hightower were members of their B.A.S.S. Nation clubs in Arkansas and Oklahoma, respectively, knowing of each other while not personally acquainted.
That changed in 2015 when they became running mates. Horne, 45, from Bella Vista, in northeast Arkansas, and Hightower, 47, living about two hours away in Mannford, Okla., decided geography and similar personalities made them click.
They both travel to the Bassmaster Elite Series with campers, carrying over their on-water chemistry to the campground and beyond. Their wives, Alicia Hightower and Rhonda Horne, are close friends. Call it a family affair in the best of terms.
Hightower would eventually achieve every club angler's dream by qualifying for the 2011 Bassmaster Classic. That same year he began fishing the Bassmaster Opens Series, competing each year until 2018, when he punched his Elite Series card.
Horne started slower, arriving on the Central Opens scene four years later. After spending a decade honing his skills as a member of the Northwest Arkansas Bassmasters, he signed up for the Opens, first as a co-angler. In 2017, he moved to the front of the boat, lost the points title by only four points, and then qualified for the Elites in 2018, just like his partner.
Here is more about what makes them click.
How did you meet and what made you decide to be running mates?
Dale: “Harvey and I fished the B.A.S.S. Nation as club anglers before the Opens. We didn’t really get to know each other until fishing the Opens. We got to know each other there, and we just hit it off. We both qualified the same year for the Elite Series and are both on the Xpress Boats team.”
Harvey: “Being only two hours apart, we got to be friends and started traveling together when we started fishing the Opens. Now it’s kind of second nature for us to travel together, and we’re both on the Xpress Boats and Yamaha teams.”
How do you work together?
Dale: “We talk periodically throughout the day, and every evening we break it down. We lay it on the line. It’s hard enough at this level to do it on your own. Two heads are better than one.”
Harvey: “It’s like a family relationship. We talk several times a day, compare notes and eliminate what’s not working and build on what is producing.”
Describe him as a competitor.
Dale: “Harvey is all business. I don’t know of any Elite Series angler that’s not ultra-competitive. You have to bring it all to make it at this level. A highly competitive drive is a must, and he’s got it turned up all the time.”
Harvey: “Dale is tenacious. He doesn’t know what ‘give up’ means to a fault. I’m the same way, and it’s why we get along so well.”
What’s he like without the game face?
Dale: “Harvey is laid back, likes to joke around. We mess with each other quite a bit. It’s all in fun.”
Harvey: “Dale is a jovial fellow. He doesn’t come off being very happy all the time, but behind the scenes he’s always in good spirits.”
What do admire about him?
Dale: “I can always count on him. He’s always available. He is always immediately there when I need him.”
Harvey: “His tenacity. Being able to get up the next morning after a bad day, reset it and go at it again like it never happened.”
What is something about him that most people might not know?
Dale: “Harvey is clumsy. He’s fallen out of the boat several times. I just put him in that clumsy category.”
Harvey: “He was a high school wrestler, and it’s where he got his tenacity.”