Brandon Lester is known for his "Garfield grin" - a smile as wide as the cartoon cat's. There were only flashes of it Wednesday. Admittedly, Lester was nervous, as nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof. He needed to catch only one 15-inch bass and weigh-in on time Thursday to clinch a berth in the Bassmaster Classic by way of a top three finish in the Eastern Opens points standings.
"I woke up at 2:30 (Thursday) morning and didn't go back to sleep," Lester said. "I never lose sleep over a tournament. I can't tell you how nervous I felt.
"I've been in a lot tougher situations than that. But you don't want to be that guy that needs only one fish in two days, and doesn't catch it. And that's the thing - a 15-inch fish here is not easy to come by."
Lester was all smiles at Thursday's weigh-in. He caught the fish he needed at 9 a.m., and then added four other keepers to become one of only 10 pros to catch a limit on the day. He's still got a lot on the line here - not one, but two trophies, and a chance to get double-qualified for the Classic. Lester came in trailing Bobby Lane by only one point in the Eastern Opens standings, and Lane finished 16th to Lester's 6th yesterday.
Today, Lester has a limit already and is leading the tournament, unofficially, with 20 pounds, 2 ounces, at 9 a.m. So Lester could win the Eastern Opens Angler of the Year trophy, the Opens Championship trophy and the Classic berth that goes with it, even though he no longer needs that, plus several thousand dollars.
"From here on out, everything is a bonus," Lester said. "I'm going to fish my butt off. I'm not laying down."