When the smoke cleared after the final Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open of 2013 at Logan Martin Lake, 24-year-old Brandon Lester of Fayetteville, Tenn., was the last man standing in the Opens AOY race.
The fact that several Elite Series pros participated in the Southern Opens this year gives Lester’s accomplishment even greater credibility. It also bolsters Lester’s confidence.
He’ll need it when he competes against the best bass fishermen on planet Earth next year in the 2014 Bassmaster Elite Series.
How did Lester become such a highly skilled bass fisherman at so young an age?
It didn’t happen overnight. He has dreamed, schemed and worked at becoming a professional bass angler for nearly 10 years.
Lester has been fishing as long as he can remember. His father and grandfather introduced him to what has become his passion.
“They weren’t big into bass fishing,” Brandon said. “We fished for crappie, bream and catfish. I still enjoy that.”
The first bass tournament Lester fished at age 16 was a life-changing event. It lit a blaze in his belly you couldn’t douse with a fire hose.
At every opportunity, Lester fished club tournaments and “Wednesday night dog fights.” While taking marketing classes at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC), Lester competed in the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series as one of the UTC MOCS (formerly Moccasins).
“That really helped me out a lot,” Lester said. “That’s where I realized I could compete at higher levels. It gave me the confidence I needed to keep pursuing my dream to be a pro fisherman.”
In 2012, Lester took his first shot at the gold ring by fishing the Bassmaster Southern Opens. He ended the season in a respectable 24th place, but claims that he was hindered by being “star struck.”
“I mean, there’s Roland Martin in the flesh, who I’ve been watching on TV since I was five years old,” Lester said. “I pull into one of my fishing spots and out comes Terry Scroggins.”
The Bassmaster Opens weren’t the only thing on Lester’s plate. Last year, he married Emily at the Lake Guntersville State Park Lodge. The couple went fishing on Guntersville the next day. (They went on an official honeymoon a month later to the Cayman Islands.)
Emily fully supports Lester’s tournament fishing career and traveled with him to all the Open events. His mother, Kim, father, Jimmy, and sister, Brook, also came to the Opens to cheer him on.
“I’m truly blessed to have a family that supports me 100 percent,” Lester said.