High schoolers help Alabama win divisional

EUFAULA, Ala. — The Alabama high school team of Zeke Gossett and Hayden Bartee made a significant contribution to the Alabama team’s victory in the B.A.S.S. Nation Southern Divisional at Lake Eufaula, April 17-18.

The Southern event was the first divisional featuring the new format, in which two high school anglers fish together for the last two days of the three-day tournament and their combined catches are added to their state team totals.

During their two days of fishing, Gossett and Bartee weighed in 10 fish totaling 41 pounds, 10 ounces, which was the fourth-highest weight on the Alabama team and placed them 16th in the overall individual standings. Both days they weighed in the heaviest five-fish limits of any of the high school teams competing in the event.

The Pell City High School juniors weighed in a 20-6 sack on the first day and followed up the next day with 21-4.

“We targeted main river grassbeds on the lower end of the lake,” said Gossett.

They caught their fish on topwater frogs, spinnerbaits, Strike King Hack Attack Heavy Cover Swim Jigs, and they also punched the grass with a Big Bite Baits Yomama.

Gossett said he enjoyed fishing the two days rather than the one-day format he had fished as a Junior Bassmaster in four previous divisionals.

“I think it really shows you are more consistent fishermen,” he said. “That whole week is just centered on fishing and that is what I love about it. Everybody there is on the same page, and you just talk fishing.”

Competing in his first divisional, Bartee was proud of his contribution to the team.

“I feel really good about it, especially because we were 17-year-olds fishing with men,” he said. “Being able to bring in those fish and help out the team is an added boost.”