UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - James River

Band of Brothers

Band of Brothers
The Hults brothers are among the most successful co-anglers in the history of FLW Outdoors. Pictured from left to right: Chris, Alan and Matt.

Yelas. Dudley. Wendlandt. These are among the names that strike fear into the hearts of Walmart FLW Tour pros. But for back-of-the-boat competitors, the most terrifying name to find one's self behind is Hults.

The trouble for FLW co-anglers, though, is that there is not just one Hults to contend with - there are three. Alan, Matt and Chris Hults have taken their bayou bassin' bona fides across four FLW Outdoors tournament trails, racking up a combined 14 wins, 51 top-10 finishes and more than $400,000 career earnings.

The most recent accomplishment for the distinguished Mississippi brothers is a history-making appearance at the 2011 Forrest Wood Cup. All three men qualified - the first time since the inception of that event that three siblings have competed in one of the sport's most storied championships. And when all was said and done, two of them, Matt and Chris, finished in the top 10 of the Co-angler Division. Chris, in fact, finished as the runner-up.

Alan Hults of Gautier, Miss., proudly displays his first-place trophy after winning the co-angler tournament title at the Stren Series Red River event.While Alan may have been the lowest-finishing Hults brother at that event, ending the tournament in the 46th position, it is he who the other brothers claim is the best fisherman of the family.

"I don't know about that," the elder Hults brother says with characteristic humility.

However, brother Chris seems to think otherwise.

"He spends more time on the water than Matt and I combined. He is constantly on the water. He lives on the water. He has boats in his backyard. He's constantly going fishing. Plus, he's fished a lot more FLW tournaments and has been exposed to a lot more techniques and a lot more pros."

Matt, the youngest of the three, credits Alan's success to a little bit of luck.

"He's just been blessed with catching the right size fish at the right time," he said. "He took my grandma fishing, and she spent a lot of time with him, and the Lord just blessed him."

Growing up Hults

Indeed, fishing with their grandmother is just one of many ways that a lifestyle of fishing was ingrained early and often into the Hultses, along with their other brothers Michael and Paul, who has also competed in a handful of tournaments himself.

"My grandmother on my father's side spent a lot of time fishing with us, and on my mother's side, it was my grandfather, my uncle, my great-uncle and, of course, Daddy," Alan said. "We got a lot of saltwater influence from my mother's side, and Daddy and my grandmother fished freshwater."

Winner of the co-angler division at the Stren Series Texas Division tournament on Lake Amistad is Chris Hults of Vancleave, Miss. with 44 pounds, 3 ounces, good for a new Ranger boat and trailer.The brothers' Mississippi Gulf Coast home gave them ample opportunity to experience both freshwater and saltwater fishing, and while they have made a name for themselves along the bass-tournament trails, Alan claims he spends more of his time chasing saltwater fish. That's why, despite his brothers' opinion, he doesn't think he is the best fisherman of the three.

"I would say Chris for sure," Alan said. "He's just more focused, I think. Matt and I probably spent more time saltwater fishing, but Chris is pretty much 95 percent a bass fisherman."

But their grandmother's freshwater training has served them well, and the men have the success - and the memories - to show for it.

"Many times, when I was 5 or 6 years old, she'd paddle me down a bayou going to a bream hole and let me bass-fish as we were going down the banks," Alan said. "I thought that was a pretty big deal."

Know your competition

The brothers Hults not only give FLW competitors a run for their money but local anglers as well. In fact, it was the thriving local tournament scene that created the fierce competitors we know today. Just days before this interview, Matt and Chris competed in a local buddy tournament, continuing a tradition that dates back to when they were youngsters.

"Alan and I used to fish the tournaments together, and then Alan had kids, so I started fishing just about all the tournaments around here with Matt, so that's really how we got started doing it," Chris said.

Matt Hults of Gautier, Miss., shows off his catch during the FLW Series Eastern Division on Lake Eufaula."We all grew up tournament fishing here locally," Matt said. "It's just something fun and a good way to learn stuff about bass fishing. There's nothing I like to do better than fish, and it's just a lot of fun."

Alan began his competitive career at 16, fishing locally with a cousin, and today competes with his two sons, David and Dylan, the former of whom vies occasionally in Walmart Bass Fishing League events.

The brothers may compete together in local tournaments, but on FLW tournament trails, they compete against each other, which has its pros and cons.

"At the end of the day, you're competing against your brother, and you know he's good enough to win," Matt said. "That's the worst thing. The best thing is you've always got something to look forward to at the end of the day - somebody to talk to about and say, `I caught this.'"

For the second year in a row, Alan Hults of Gautier, Miss., wins the Co-angler Division title at the Stren Series event on Lake Eufaula.Alan, too, has felt the strain of competing against a brother.

"The worst thing is if one person is doing really good and one person is doing really bad," he said. "You feel sorry for the one not doing any good, but you don't want it to affect the way you're competing."

"When we are in separate boats, and I'm fishing against Alan, then I want to beat him, no doubt about it, and he will tell you the same thing," Chris said. "He wants to be first every time, he wants me to finish second, and I feel the same way about him."

That being said, all three brothers were quick to point out how much of a help they are to one another. Three fierce competitors all rolled into one - it's no wonder they are so dominant along the FLW circuit.

Matt Hults of Gautier, Miss., shows off part of his two-day, 36-pound, 1-ounce catch. "I guess when we get in the boat with each other, we try to outdo each other, but that's just part of being brothers, I think," Matt said. "When it comes to those big tournaments, we're fishing against each other, but at the end of the day, we all get together and talk and tell each other what we caught fish on and help each other out."

"You want to do the best you can, but if you can't make it, you want one of your brothers to do as well as they possibly can," Chris said. "We're very competitive, but at the same time, you want to see everybody do well."

"There's no friction," Alan said. "Having them around definitely helps. If somebody doesn't have a lot of confidence, usually the others can pick them up and say, `I know the fish will hit this,' so if nothing else, it gives you a bit more confidence."

Making memories and making history

That confidence was on full display in the events leading up to the 2011 Forrest Wood Cup. All three brothers qualified for that event via the FLW Tour majors alongside fourth "brother" Chris Sward from Birmingham, Ala. Sward may not be a blood relative, but he travels, rooms and shares information with the Hults brothers, and they consider him one of their own.

Chris Hults of Vancleave, Miss., shows off his catch on Lake Eufaula. When the dust settled, Chris ended up second, taking home $15,000, while Matt finished 10th. Sward took 40th place while Alan settled for 46th. As for the accomplishment of all three - or four - of them qualifying, it was simply another notch in their collective belt.

"That was our goal at the beginning of the year, for all four of us to make it," Matt said.

"We'll be there again," Alan said. "I hate it that Chris got so close and didn't win. Every tournament we go to, if we see that somebody's really got a chance, everybody will group together and make sure that one person has absolutely everything they need to do well - usually baits. Everybody will kind of rally around one person to try to let them win."

But the Forrest Wood Cup was not the first time the Hults brothers have exerted their collective muscle on a standings sheet. Memorably, Alan and Chris took the pro and co-angler titles, respectively, at last year's EverStart Series event on Lake Eufaula, with Matt coming in second on the co-angler side and brother Paul claiming 13th. In fact, of all the on-the-water memories the Hults brothers share, that is what both Alan and Chris qualified as their greatest.

Co-angler champion Alan Hults shows off his first Stren Series trophy."To me, that was a much bigger accomplishment than the Forrest Wood Cup," Alan said.

It's these shared accomplishments, large and small, that makes the Hults' situation so unique.

"The best thing about it is the memories - the traveling together," Chris said. "Otherwise we probably wouldn't be spending as much time together because we've all got our own families. Fishing keeps us close."

"There are so many memories," Matt said. "We're always doing something on the water together. That's what we do - live to fish with each other. They are by far my best friends."

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