You might think Austin Felix, from the Minneapolis area, and Brett Preuett, from northern Louisiana, are worlds apart when it comes to belonging in the Bro Series fraternity.
Geographically they are, including opposite fishing styles divided between power fishing in bayou waters and finesse angling for smallmouth. What qualifies these two Bassmaster Elite Series pros for the Bro Series is a common ground from coming up through the ranks of the Bassmaster College Series.
Felix, 36, attended the University of Minnesota, where he graduated with a degree in entrepreneurship and sustainability. Courses included marketing, public speaking and entrepreneurship, all designed to complement his intent to become a professional bass angler. While enrolled he also competed on the university’s fishing team, winning the 2014 FLW National Championship in South Carolina, and that same year qualifying for the Bassmaster Collegiate Championship on nearby Lake Chatuge. Following graduation, he joined the FLW Tour and earned nearly $300,000 in winnings over four years. He then competed in the Bassmaster Eastern Opens and qualified for the Elite Series in 2019.
Preuett, 30, helped start the highly competitive and successful fishing program at the University of Louisiana Monroe. Ironically, he also fished the 2014 Bassmaster College Championship on Lake Chatuge, winning the bracket and qualifying for the 2015 Bassmaster Classic. With it came paid entry fees into the Opens division of his choice. After an outstanding Opens season that included three Top-12 finishes, he qualified for the 2016 Elite Series. After two seasons he dropped outside the qualifying points, spending a year on the FLW Tour and then returning to the Elite Series.
How did you meet?
Austin: “We met through a couple of his ULM teammates when we fished the FLW championship, and at the Bassmaster championship. It became a fraternity kind of deal between us and those ULM guys.”
Brett: “We met at the FLW championship, and then we fished at the Bassmaster championship. Our guys met some of the UM guys and struck up a friendship. He’s from the North and I’m from the South, and there was something about him that I just really liked.”
What made you decide to be running mates?
Austin: “After college we went our separate ways until we fished the Opens, and then our friendship started again. I joined FLW, he fished the Elites and dropped out and came to FLW. Then we started traveling together. We both eventually came to B.A.S.S., with me joining the Elites last year. I already had friends from the Elites, but he definitely was the closest friend I had when I came over.”
Brett: “After Chatuge I went fishing with him on Mille Lacs and had the best day of smallmouth fishing in my life, also meeting his parents and getting to know them. The year that I missed qualifying for B.A.S.S. and went to FLW, I knew we’d be good running mates, and we have ever since.”
How do you work together?
Austin: “We share everything. The thing about Brett is he’s a power fisherman, a shallow water guy. I’m more of a well-rounded angler so it works out really well. We talk on the phone a couple times a day, trying to get something going for us both. We have a strong trust factor.”
Brett: “We are an open book. He’s a big-time finesse and offshore fisherman. I grew up in Louisiana power fishing in shallow water. We dial in our strengths and swap information, depending on which type of bite is working. It allows us to cover both ends of the spectrum.”
Describe him as a competitor?
Austin: “He’s incredibly focused and motivated by big fish, maybe more than he should be to a fault, but that’s his strength. He’s an incredible angler; I saw it in college and in the Opens. He’s always full throttle. I mean he won that collegiate championship with a treble hook impaled in his neck.”
Brett: “You’ve got to watch out for him. (Mark) Zona named him the “Sleepy Assassin” for a reason. He fishes very consistent. Last year, Austin had a couple of near wins and nearly won Angler of the Year. He’s always going to be like that, and I watched it during college.”
What’s he like without the game face?
Austin: “He’s the nicest guy on the planet. He’ll help anybody, one of a kind. I never worry about him steering me in a wrong direction, or trying to wrong anyone. I don’t think there is anybody in the Elites who doesn’t feel the same way about him.”
Brett: “He’s the same as he is with it on. He lives up to his nickname. He’s as lackadaisical as they come. Nothing changes about him. I don’t think the dude ever gets nervous. He’s just as relaxed as can be. Always.”
What do admire about him?
Austin: “He’s genuinely just a good friend who you can trust with anything.”
Brett: “He is one of my best friends. There were financially tough times for me, and Austin gave me all the lures and tackle that I needed. I had an infection on a finger at St. Clair, and he tied all my leaders and knots for my baits. In our profession that says a lot. He’s just a good dude.”
What is something about him that most people might not know?
Austin: “His high tolerance for playing through pain. He did it at the collegiate championship, and he did it again last season at Lake St. Clair. Brett had this bad infection in one of his fingers from a farming accident. He didn’t have health insurance, and with doctors’ advice we cut it open to drain out the infected fluid. He never missed a beat. He practiced and even cashed a check, fished all the way through it. He’s a tough dude.”
Brett: “He’s kind of weird about Harry Potter stuff. He’s got Harry Potter quotes all in his boat and in his tackleboxes.”