To fish the Bassmaster Opens, Lester used vacation days from his full-time job at CNS Plastics where he runs the receiving dock. His superiors are well aware of his bass fishing dreams and have generously worked with Lester to schedule time off for the tournaments.
During Lester’s 2013 Bass Pro Shops Southern Opens campaign, he settled down and performed to his full potential. Although he had only fished in Florida one time before the Southern Open at Lake Tohopekaliga, he pulled off a third place finish.
“I concentrated on isolated hyacinth mats as close to deep water as I could find,” Lester said.
He caught bass in practice by punching a Beaver bait through the mats with a heavy sinker. When a cold front shut down the bass during the tournament, Lester continued getting bites by downsizing to a Gambler BB Cricket.
Lester knew the umbrella rig would dominate the second Bassmaster Open at Lake Douglas. However, he also knew the umbrella rig was a feast-or-famine presentation.
“I wanted to avoid a disaster and build on the strong start I had at Toho,” Lester said. “So I ran way upriver where there was some current and off-colored water.”
Working a 1/2-ounce football jig down riprap banks produced bass for Lester at Douglas the first day in stormy weather. The next day, under sunny skies, he had to switch to a Texas rigged Zoom Brush Hog with a 3/16-ounce bullet sinker to get bites.
His play-it-safe strategy paid off with a 15th place finish.
During the final southern Open at Logan Martin Lake, Lester had a field day catching mainly Coosa River spotted bass. He fished a shaky head worm around bridge columns and riprap banks to nab 16th place and the AOY title.
“This year was a year of adjustments,” Lester said. “At each tournament, I had to change from what worked in practice to catch them after the tournament started.”
The ability to make adjustments on the fly is what separates the top bass fishermen from the also-rans. This bodes well for Lester when he joins the ranks of the Elite Series pros in 2014.