Elite

Lester on whitetail bucks and brushpile crappie

It’s fair to assume Brandon Lester might never want to put the baitcasting rods away this fall considering the magical roll his 2022 B.A.S.S season was on. The easy-going Tennessee pro won a Bassmaster Open, a Bassmaster Elite and dang near won the Bassmaster Angler of the Year title.

But even Lester needs a little break from bass fishing once the season is over – and for him that means resetting his heart and soul by chasing whitetails with a bow and crappie fishing with spinning rods.

Lester’s hunting season has already proved magical in 2022 – as he harvested the best buck of his life a few weeks ago. When asked to provide two key tips for deer hunters in November, Lester says follow the does to find the bucks, and don’t be afraid to push the envelope regarding wind direction and bedding areas.

“November is the month when bucks throughout much of the U.S. are really feeling their oats and letting their guard down as their minds are so focused on the rut,” grins the Team Toyota pro.

“In the past, I would totally let the wind control my hunts, and I’d also stay completely away from what I thought might be a shooter buck’s bedding area. But these days I’ll push my limits a little more in November if I think they’re obsessed with does,” he advises.

Lester also isn’t shy about getting up close and personal with autumn crappie that call brushpiles in 14 to 20 feet of water home.

“Crappie fishing is absolutely one of my favorite things in life, and it really helps me get better at using my electronics. It also helps me stay in tune with locating active schools of fish, and I know both of those aspects help make me a better bass fisherman,” he says.

Lester uses down scan sonar, as well as side scan to find brushpiles and schools of crappie, and then leans on Active Target forward facing sonar to make super precise presentations.

“I can see my 1/16-ounce jig get within 8 or 10 inches of a crappie sitting near the top of a brushpile,” he smiles. “And while I catch a ton of crappie on a jig, I have found that a lot of times minnows under a bobber tend to catch the biggest crappie in a school.”

Lester ties his jigs to High Vis 4-pound test monofilament from Viscous, and when rigging live bait, he’s sure to leave about 10 feet of line between his minnow and the bobber.

For even more details, fans can check out Lester’s crappie fishing strategies on his YouTube channel, Brandon Lester Fishing.

“I love to eat crappie like a lot of people do, but I release a ton of them too. For me, it’s as much about keeping my skill set sharp for locating and catching fish in the offseason,” he explains.

That’s exactly the mindset that made Brandon Lester one of the greatest bass anglers in America this past year, and for several seasons prior to that. And based on his offseason practices right now, fans can count on more of the same from him in 2023.