Carhartt Bassmaster College Series anglers Zeke Gossett and Hayden Bartee, from Jacksonville State in Alabama, are only 22 years old, and yet they’ve been successful fishing partners longer than some couples stay married.
A fellow student knew they both liked to fish introduced them to one another in eighth grade, and the two have been fishing together ever since, for nearly a decade.
Organized high school fishing was in its infancy when they met, but the two found success quickly, winning the Alabama High School State Championship their junior year, as well as claiming victory in a high school regional.
This week, they’re competing in the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship on Lake Chickamauga, and they feel like patterns are shaping up to their liking.
“This is such a great fishery that you can catch a bass around a dock in 6” of water or out deep in 30 feet,” says Gossett. “We just have to keep an open mind and be willing to do a little junk fishing until maybe we’ll really dial-in a pattern.”
When asked about their long-standing successful team fishing friendship, as you might expect, their egos were never apparent, and instead a dip net full of mutual respect and compliments flowed easily.
“Hayden just has a knack for catching big bass,” says Gossett. To which Bartee fired back, “Zeke is a great on the water decision maker, and he can do it all when it comes to techniques and lures.”
Being versatile and making strong intuitive decisions will certainly serve Zeke Gossett well in his aspirations for possibly fishing professionally. “Hopefully I can make it to the Bassmaster Elite Series, but if not, maybe a career in the fishing industry,” says the Parks & Recreation major.
And as for Hayden Bartee, his head and heart display a mature perspective regarding the importance of stability not often found in a 22 year old. “I want a good job, with good income, and a stable life,” says Bartee.
Wherever life takes these two, count on them to be good men with successful lives, and don’t be shocked if they’re still winning tournaments together someday while managing successful marriages, and perhaps raising kids who love to fish as much as they do.