June 28, 2024

When it Comes to Fishing, Mason Bush and Hayden Berryman are a Championship Duo

4.2 min read| Published On: June 28th, 2024|

By Kyle Coppola

When it Comes to Fishing, Mason Bush and Hayden Berryman are a Championship Duo

4.2 min read| Published On: June 28th, 2024|

Young anglers Mason Bush, 13, and Hayden Berryman, 14, know more than a thing or two about fishing and they’re making names for themselves in Florida and beyond. 

Mason and Hayden, who are cousins, have won competitions at the state and national levels since teaming up a year ago. 

Their love for the sport comes from their fathers, Josh Bush and Jason Berryman, who have been fishing most of their lives. 

“I began fishing at a young age,” Hayden says. “Eventually, my cousin Mason wanted to get into fishing as well and we began fishing together a few years back. Eventually we decided to make a team together. Since we are cousins, it just made sense to call our team Just 2 Cousins Fishing.” 

That relationship is key to their success, Jason says. 

“One thing about fishing is that you might be best friends with someone out on shore but when you fish you might not be compatible,” he says. “For Mason and Hayden, they work extremely well out there together and that is one of their greatest strengths.”

Mason and Hayden mostly fish with Jason, who is the skipper on the boat. 

“I am so happy that Mason and Hayden get to compete together,” Jason says. “I think they learn a lot about the sport of fishing, but they also learn about themselves while fishing out there together. One might be strong at one thing and the other may be better at something else during a competition, but they work together very well.”

That was evident last year when Hayden and Mason competed in the Florida Bass Nation Junior/High School State Championship at Lake Harris. 

“We were down by about three pounds coming into the final day of competition,” Mason says. “We were struggling a bit to find some good fish and were down to our last hour before we had to race home to weigh in. Then, like it was just meant to be, Mason snagged an amazing bass and then within a few minutes, he caught another big one.” 

As the boys rushed their catches home, they were among the last to weigh their fish. 

“When we pulled our fish out and we weighed them and saw we won the state championship, it was such an amazing feeling,” Mason says. 

That win qualified the boys for the Nationals, where they competed against some of the best anglers in the USA. 

“Fishing at Nationals was an amazing experience for the boys,” Berryman said. “We finished 37th but that was 37th out of the entire United States for a group of boys that have been fishing for such a short period of time. It was thrilling for them to fish a new area of the State of Florida that they have never been before.” 

Mason and Hayden usually get out on the lake the day before a competition for what is essentially a practice round. However, during Nationals, they spent several days figuring out the new lakes.

“We got the opportunity to fish a few different areas of the lakes. It was really educational to learn the different waters and see what worked and didn’t work compared to what we were used to,” Hayden says. 

While Just 2 Cousins clearly love to fish, Hayden has an artistic side. 

“Growing up fishing I always was fascinated with which kinds of baits worked best. One day I was watching YouTube videos on making baits. I decided to give it a try,” Hayden says. “I learned how to spray paint baits to look good and I had success catching fish with them.” 

Now Hayden and his dad are co-owners of their own company, Donk’s Custom Baits. Their baits are available for purchase at Lakeside Bait and Tackle in Tavares. 

The sport of fishing might not always get the attention of stick and ball sports, but it is growing in Central Florida, especially at the high school and junior high levels.

“A person who really helps these kids out is Dean Morris,” Jason says. “Dean is such a blessing in our community. He works with TSA, which stands for Teen Sportfishing Association. Dean helps these kids out with boats and has been instrumental in getting young kids into the sport.” 

The sport of fishing is unique because you don’t necessarily need the top equipment to be successful. Some of the best anglers trust their instincts. While fancy equipment and top-tier boats are nice, it all comes down to the skill with how an angler throws, reels and decides on different bait tactics. 

“It’s a lot of just trying stuff out to see what works and what doesn’t. That’s where Mason is better than me sometimes and sometimes, I seem to catch more fish than him. We both have our strengths and that’s what makes us such a good team,” Hayden says. 

Both boys have caught big fish. Hayden has caught a 7.63-lb. bass and Mason has caught a 7.99-pounder. 

“I don’t want to give away too many secrets, but I was on Mount Dora fishing near a dock,” Mason says. “My rod snapped and I could tell he was big right off the bat. I started to reel in but thought he jumped off at one point. Luckily, I got back to working on him and when I got him up out of the water my eyes just got huge. I couldn’t believe I caught something like that.”

For those wondering about the competitive sport of fishing and what happens to the fish after the weigh-in, they are normally put onto a distribution boat after the competition is over and returned to the wild. This is a normal practice and competition directors make sure that they strive for 100% live release whenever possible. 

In the fall, Hayden will be attending Umatilla High School as a freshman and Mason still has another year left in middle school before he enters high school.

Still, both boys say they will continue fishing together. 

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About the Author: Kyle Coppola

Kyle Coppola was born in Newton, Massachusetts and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communications from Curry College in 2016. After traveling to Florida on a family vacation, he decided he could not get enough of the warm weather and made the move from snowy Massachusetts to central Florida 8 years ago.

For the last decade Kyle has gained valuable experience in social media content creation, marketing and sales, writing, video production, sports announcing and even broadcasting for local radio stations, such as FM 102.9 in The Villages and FM 91.5 in Massachusetts. Every year he volunteers at The Villages Charter High School as a play-by-play sports announcer for the football games as well as a public address announcer for the basketball games, including the annual Battle at The Villages Tournament.

Outside the office Kyle is a husband and father to two beautiful girls along with their cat. In his spare time he likes to spend time with his family, travel, play golf and swim. He is also a huge sports junkie and even bigger motorsports fan and loves to attend racing events when he can.

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