The big question is if Jordan Lee can catch lightning in a bottle for the third consecutive year and complete a Classic feat that’s never been done.
Lee, of Grant, Ala., scored the biggest comeback in Classic history to win on Lake Conroe in 2017, then followed it up with another rally to win last year on Lake Hartwell. Heading into the 2019 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, the 27-year-old has a shot at accomplishing an unprecedented hat trick – no angler has won three consecutive Classics.
It doesn’t seem to be weighing on him, however.
“Not really. Haven’t been really thinking about it,” he said. “I didn’t really think about it last year. It’s obviously a big chance, you got an opportunity. But I’m a realist. I know how hard it is to win a tournament. It’s just got to go your way … but I’m really looking forward for the chance, the opportunity, to get three. It’s going to be fun.”
Lee might be easy-going off the water, but in his boat, he’s always a man on a mission. This year out of Knoxville on the Tennessee River, a first-time venue for a Classic, Lee will take his best shot at history.
Last year, he became only the third angler with Rick Clunn (1976-77) and Kevin VanDam (2010-11) to win back-to-back Classics. He’s also only the sixth angler to win more than one title. Clunn and VanDam have won four Classics each, while Bobby Murray, Hank Parker and George Cochran are the only other anglers with more than one title.
But there’s no chicken counting. The Tennessee River, along with Fort Loudoun and Tellico lakes, represents somewhat of a mystery egg for Lee, who has never competed there.
“I do not know very much at all,” Lee said. “I know pretty much the basics of what species live in there, but I’ve never fished a tournament there.”
Lee did spend three days there late last year pre-practicing.
“If you want to call it that. I went out there in November, and it was literally the coldest three days that we’ve had,” he said. “It was in the teens, low 20s, high of low 30s.
“I did not get much from it. I didn’t really get much from it at all. It’s going to be a whole different ballgame as far as the weather we’ve gotten recently, the high water, the muddy water.”
From intelligence he’s gathered, Lee knows the basics of the Classic fishery, the Tennessee River around Knoxville and Fort Loudoun and Tellico lakes.
“The river system has got some big fish in it. Fort Loudoun, from what I’ve read, they put some Florida strain in there a few years back,” he said. “I’ve seen some tournament results from April last year, there were some big fish caught. I think you’re going to see some big fish, but the muddy water, depending on the way if it gets warm, it could be a really good tournament.”