Lee Livesay and Brad Whatley grew up in the heart of East Texas bass country, and those mutual upbringings inspired their dreams of someday fishing at the sport’s top level.
In their neck of the woods, bass fishing is more lifestyle than sport. Cruise the streets of any small town and the bass boats in driveways stand out like the pump jacks in the surrounding oil fields.
Livesay, 34, and Whatley, 39, grew up bass fishing and it was their destiny to eventually meet, which they did while fishing the 2017 Basspro.com Bassmaster Central Opens.
Rewinding to their younger years, Whatley honed his skills on Caddo Lake, the cypress tree and lily pad filled trophy bass fishery shared with Louisiana. Sixty miles to the west, Livesay fished Lake O’ the Pines another top bass fishery, and other lakes around his Kilgore home.
While Whatley advanced toward his goal by dominating local tournaments, Livesay took a more direct route. After graduating from the University of Louisiana at Monroe, he moved to Lake Fork to pursue his career dream, which was to be a guide on the legendary trophy lake. He did just that, earning a reputation among his guide peers and clients as being among the best on the lake.
Now, the Bassmaster Elite Series rookies share another mutual goal, which is qualifying for the 50th Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. Here is more on what brought them together and how they inspire each other to success on the tour.
How did you meet?
Lee: We met while fishing the 2017 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Opens.
Brad: Yeah, where you smoked ‘em on the Arkansas River.
What made you decide to be running mates?
Lee: We share the same personalities, and we just click. That’s important to me. He thinks like me on and off the water.
Brad: Even though Texas is a big state we only live about two hours apart. We got to talking and we are the only guys on the tour from our part of East Texas.
What’s he like as a roommate?
Lee: He’s like the old man of the relationship. Sometimes he’s a little grumpy. Somedays you’ve got to cheer him up. That is why so many people like Brad. You can’t not like the guy. And he’s got a phenomenal mustache.
Brad: We click. We’ve got different but same personalities. What I mean by that is you need to think alike but you need to think different too. If we were so similar we’d probably not be of help to each other.
How do you work together?
Lee: We always have a game plan. He fishes shallow, I fish deep and we compare notes.
Brad: We cover a lot of water and compare notes. It just works out well. When either of us is struggling the other usually has a good idea of what to do.
What drives him to compete?
Lee: He doesn’t like to lose. That word right there, compete, says it all. He’s always wanting more. That’s why he’s grumpy.
Brad: Most of us played some kind of sport in high school or college. We are all very much driven to compete. That’s not something you are given, or that you are going to earn. It’s something that you are born with. And that very much describes Lee.
What’s he like without the game face?
Lee: A little bit of everything. That’s what I like about Brad. He’s always got his game face on but he’ll crack a joke. He’s always got my back. Not matter what.
Brad: He is laid back. He doesn’t spin out. If we are not on the water then we don’t talk a lot about fishing. We talk about life. You have to separate the two. He’s a simple, honest man. I’ve yet to not find him not be across the board with me.
What do you admire about him?
Lee: His honesty. He’s a great family man. He always does right. I can steer left or right, but he’s always on the right path.
Brad: It’s his honesty and loyalty. I admire him for his drive. He wants to win. He’s a rookie out here, and he is fighting for AOY. He is in the hunt. To me, there are no words for that other than he’s a winner