Everyone's life has storms — those moments when things go to hell in a handbasket and the future looks grim. The most important thing isn’t what happens during the storm, but more so, what we do afterward.
Bassmaster Elite Series angler Brock Mosley, 33, has had a few hellbenders roll through his life, befitting a guy who lives a few hours from the gulf coast. But Mosley has fought his way through the tough times, and we’re seeing the results in a spectacular run of tournament fishing.
During the 2021 Elite season, Mosley had four Top 10 finishes, including two second places, and finished fifth in the 2021 Classic. (Mosley also placed second twice in 2017.) In 2020, Mosley made three Top 10s and was fourth in the Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. That’s seven Top 10 Elite finishes in the past two seasons (or 18 tournaments), which is more than any of his peers.
Given that kind of success, it’s possible Mosley, of Collinsville, Miss., is the most under-the-radar star on the Elite Series. Perhaps it’s because he’s a quiet, humble guy who puts his head down and goes to work. Or maybe it’s because he’s been through enough hard times that he doesn’t get overly excited or flashy when things go well. This story is a look into the life-altering events that shaped the man he is today.
The early years
“I didn’t have the best childhood,” said Mosley. He says this almost apologetically, mentioning that he’s not asking for sympathy or using it as an excuse for anything.
Mosley’s parents went through a rough divorce when he was 8 or 9 years old. And for a while, he was an angry young man.
“I was hotheaded,” he said. “It’s a miracle I didn’t go to jail — I’d fight anybody that wanted to fight me.”
Mosley channeled some of that anger into sports and had success. But in the ninth grade, a freak accident nearly ended his playing days. Mosley was a wide receiver when, during practice, a close friend violently slammed into him after the play was over, separating his hip and breaking his pelvis. Today, that’s called the Bo Jackson injury and it ended Jackson’s football career. Mosley barely skipped a beat. Doctors installed a plate in his hip, and after six months of rehab, Mosley was eventually faster than before the injury. And he ended up playing all four years of high school football.
Mosley was also a talented baseball player, where he roamed the outfield. As a senior in high school, his batting average was .415, and he went on to play in college, two years at East Mississippi Community College and one year at Delta State. But something wasn’t quite right with him and baseball.
“I loved baseball, but for a while I was doing it to make my dad happy,” he said. “Eventually, I figured out I was ready to do something for me. I fish because I love it.”
Mosley finished up college at Ole Miss, where he graduated with a degree in business marketing. No longer playing baseball, he had time for his first love, fishing. Mosley joined the Ole Miss fishing team and won a Bassmaster College Series Regional.
Mosley first thought of fishing professionally as a 5-year-old, when his dad took him to a Bassmaster Classic in Birmingham. Now, fishing would indeed be his future.
The turning point
Mosley eventually made the Bassmaster Elite Series via the Southern Opens in 2015. But his 2016 Elite rookie season was anything but a dream come true. Mosley finished 101st in the AOY race. And 2017 was headed in a similar direction when he finished 95th in the season-opener at Cherokee Lake and 101st four tournaments later at Sam Rayburn. Then something magical happened.
“Honestly, I was down to my last dime,” Mosley said describing the summer of 2017. “I was beginning to think this Elite dream might be done. But I was also thinking, ‘If this is God’s plan for me, then it will all work out.’ I said that every day.”
Mosley and Drew Benton, another young Elite who played college baseball, decided they’d stay up North after the Bassmaster Northern Open on New York’s Oneida Lake.
“We wanted to learn Northern fishing,” he said.
It was essentially a three-week vacation where the two friends fished every day. They spent time on Lake Champlain, the St. Lawrence River and more time on Oneida.
The time up North paid off in ways that still resonate today. Mosley finished second at St. Lawrence, 42nd at Champlain and second at Lake St. Clair. In one month he made $70,000 in tournament earnings and sponsor incentives.
There was one unlikely beneficiary for the newfound cash. Mosley and his wife, Leslie, had a 1-year-old Labrador retriever with elbow dysplasia. The cost to fix the elbow would be $3,000.
“We just couldn’t afford it,” said Mosley. “It was killing us. We didn’t have kids then and she was like a child to us.”
But there in Waddington, N.Y., the Mosleys’ financial picture suddenly got brighter.
“I called my wife backstage and said, ‘Get it fixed,’” he said.
“I was looking to God for answers and He gave them to me. This must be what I’m meant to do.”
A strong southern woman
Mosley had known Leslie Martin (later Martin-Mosley) most of his life. They grew up in the same small church in Collinsville, Miss., and attended the same schools.
“But I never thought of her that way,” he said.