World, it's time to meet Jesse Wiggins. That is if you hadn't been introduced to him already. The 27-year-old from Cullman, Ala., won the Southern Open on Harris Chain (Fla.) last month, and the Open on Smith Lake (Ala.) in 2016. This is just his ninth Bassmaster event, and his first Elite. He made the 2017 Classic with the Smith Lake victory, and he qualified for the 2018 Classic by winning the Harris Chain tournament. To my knowledge he's the first angler to make two Classics without fishing one. He made the Elites by finishing third in the Bassmaster Southern Opens. Oh and he was the 2016 Angler of the Year for the Alabama Bass Trail.
Wiggins actually qualified for the Bassmaster Elite Series once before by finishing second in the 2014 Southern Opens. But he passed on that opportunity, perhaps he wasn't ready financially. It appears the additional years of fishing have set him up well to compete with the big boys.
He's still working on getting the money right. Wiggins is a respiratory therapist and continues to do that between tournaments.
He has 15 pounds of bass today, and currently leads the field in BASSTrakk. Even if doesn't add to that weight he's likely to make the Top 12. Not a bad start to his Elite Series career.