Credit Bassmaster LIVE analyst Ronnie Moore as the matchmaker for the brotherly relationship between Bassmaster Elite Series pros Kyle Monti and Jake Whitaker, both 28 years old.
Moore, Monti and Whitaker arrived at their current careers via the Bassmaster College Series. In 2018, Monti, originally from Indian River State College, and Whitaker, from UNC Charlotte, were Elite Series rookies after qualifying through the Bassmaster Opens Series.
“Jake has been one of my best friends for years now, and he’s kind of a quiet guy,” said Moore. “I didn’t want him to be that sheltered, lone Elite Series guy that rolled alone without a partner to run things by each other, grow together and become better anglers.”
Moore thought it a good idea for his friend to have a roommate. Monti was in the same boat, without any new pros living in his native south Florida, or anywhere else nearby to run with on the road. Moore suggested that Whitaker reach out to Monti. He made the introduction to both via text message. They clicked early on.
“It’s a good balance because they have different strengths and can help each other out when they need it,” said Moore. “I thought they would be good roommates.”
By all accounts, the matchmaking plan worked. Two years later, Monti and Whitaker are solid running mates. Whitaker, the 2018 Bassmaster Elite Series Rookie of the Year, competed in the Bassmaster Classic his first two years on the tour. Monti has consistently cashed a check in 19 of 26 events.
Here is more about what makes their friendship worthy of a Bro Series focus.
How did you meet and what made you decide to be running mates?
Jake: We were both rookies in the Elite Series. I was on the UNC Charlotte fishing team, and he fished for Indian River State College. We just decided to give it a try, and the rest is history.
Kyle: Ronnie Moore put us together before our first Elite Series event. We both were rookies when we met two years ago. Ronnie said his buddy Jake was looking for a roommate, so we stayed together with a couple of guys, hit it off, and here we are.
How do you work together?
Jake: We share notes, try to get each other on the right path. We don’t share specifics. We share the big picture of what’s going on during practice. Most of the time we are either both on fish, or not at all. We work on expanding our game plans when we are both on them. When we aren’t, we put our heads together and figure things out.
Kyle: The nice thing is he’s good at dock fishing and finesse fishing. It’s my least favorite way to fish. So, he helps me there. My strength is shallow fishing. So, I help him when he needs it. We play off each other’s strengths. We try to be strategic and not duplicate what we are doing.
Describe him as a competitor?
Jake: He is an awesome shallow water angler. He does like to drop shot, but it’s not his strength. He’s been a huge help to me.
Kyle: He is very laid back, doesn’t let anything bother him. He is really good at picking up something and making it work, where I am the guy that tries to do a dozen different things at the same time.
What’s he like without the game face?
Jake: He’s a laid-back guy. We like to hang out. He’s a good friend, and especially when we are away from home.
Kyle: I call him “Big Country.” Everywhere we go, people listen to him talk and wonder where he is from. He is really laid back and that’s good for me. He tells me that I worry about things too much, which I probably do.
What do admire about him?
Jake: He is trustworthy. It makes our travel and fishing experience better.
Kyle: Like I said, he’s pretty laid back. I’m kind of wound up. So, it works out well. As I guide, I can read people pretty quick. I could tell he was a pretty good dude after our first time rooming together. I always try to surround myself with good people that I can trust. He’s that kind of guy.
What is something about him that most people might not know?
Kyle: He can ride a unicycle. He took some sort of class in college. And being from North Carolina, he’s a pretty good basketball shooter. Overall, he’s a good athlete. Golf, football, whatever. He’s pretty athletic.