Daily Limit: Browning’s fortune cookie pattern

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James Overstreet
Stephen Browning reacts to winning the Bass Pro Shops Central Open on Ross Barnett.

Never in his years of eating Chinese food has Stephen Browning opened a fortune cookie that mentioned fishing, let alone tell him he would do well fishing.

That all changed Friday night, after he had climbed back into the Bass Pro Shops Central Open at Ross Barnett. The Hot Springs, Ark., pro was 36th after Day 1, but after rising to fifth he went to dinner with wife, Tammy, their son, Beau and his fishing partner, Cole Lamb.

Technically, Browning, 51, didn’t break open the folded sugar cookie and discover the tiny paper prophesy; his wife did.

“She said, ‘Oh my gosh! You have to read this! This should have been yours,’” Browning said.

It read: If you go fishing, your catch will be plentiful.

“I’m like, ‘I should have opened that one,’” Browning said. “Then we were like, ‘No, no, we’re a team. That’s meant for all of us.’”

Confucious say, roll with it.

He did. Stephen caught the largest bag on Day 3 of 16 pounds, 8 ounces for a 44-0 total that gave him his third Open title and fourth B.A.S.S. victory overall.

Everything comes to him who waits

Browning’s week might be best described by the above Chinese proverb. Each day he had to practice extreme patience, and each day he was rewarded. He did not cull once in the event, landing only 15 fish, and he filled his limit late each day.

On Day 1, Browning lost several key fish and caught No. 5 for his 11-7 total with 15 minutes remaining in his fishing time. Meanwhile, his co-angler and eventual winner, Justin Leet, topped him with three fish for 13-4.

“He only had 3 keeper bites all day, but they were a 3, 4 and 5,” Browning said. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, really?’ It didn’t go my way the first day, but it dang sure did the next two.”