Opens profile: LeBrun’s eyes opened

dst_7051.jpg

Dalton Tumblin

When Louisiana’s Nick LeBrun won the final Bassmaster Central Open at Grand Lake, Oklahoma, in 2021 he learned how advantageous it is to fish B.A.S.S. events.

“It opened my eyes to a lot of stuff,” LeBrun said. “I’ve never gotten that level of hype, exposure and publicity from anything I’ve ever done. People were reaching out and texting me that I’d never heard from before.”

What he had done prior to his Grand Lake victory was to become a fulltime bass pro after winning BFL’s All American Championship in 2018. This accomplishment brought him to the FLW Tour which was a stepping-stone to MLF.

Because LeBrun fished all three 2021 Central Opens, his Grand Lake victory earned him a berth to the 2022 Bassmaster Classic at Lake Hartwell. He regards this as one of the crowning achievements of his life.

LeBrun had fished only two Opens prior to signing on for the 2021 Central division. His goal to make the Elite Series was quashed at the first tournament when he finished 113th at Pickwick Lake.

He made the poor showing work to his advantage by going for broke and targeting big bass at the next two events. This strategy yielded second place at Smith Lake, first place at Grand and winnings of $73,313.

When LeBrun was a young teen, his father, Billy, who passed in 2018, began taking him fishing at Black Lake in central Louisiana. His father wasn’t an avid angler, but his uncle Ronnie Smith, and his uncle’s neighbor Mike Watts, loved to cast for bass. They often took LeBrun fishing.

“Black is a cypress tree lake,” LeBrun said. “I was taught how to fish the Texas-rigged worm and a spinnerbait. They got me on the water. I ran with it.”

A bass tournament put on by his father’s company at Caddo Lake gave LeBrun his first taste of competitive fishing.

“My mom encouraged dad to fish the tournament with me,” LeBrun said. “There must have been all of five boats in it. We won. Ever since that day I’ve wanted to be pro angler. It’s been my dream.”

From his late teens through early 20s LeBrun fished local tournaments regularly at Caddo, which is his home lake. It contains one of the largest flooded cypress forests in the U.S. and is lush with aquatic bass habitat. Once he became a known hot stick on Caddo, an older mentor told him that if he wanted to make a name for himself, he needed to fish tournaments at Rayburn and Toledo Bend.

LeBrun heeded the advice and began fishing Bassmaster Weekend tournaments at these storied Texas reservoirs in 2011. He was the Angler of the Year in his first season.

“The fishing wasn’t too terribly different from what I did to catch bass at Caddo, but the competition was on a different level,” LeBrun said. “Those guys will take your lunch money and laugh about it. The anglers are awesome down there.”

The next step in LeBrun’s bass progression was fishing BFL Events, which lead to him becoming an MLF pro. His aim now is to win the 2022 Bassmaster Classic at Lake Hartwell and to try again next year to qualify for the Elite Series.

“I will definitely fish the Central Opens next year,” LeBrun said. “I might just fish them all.”

The 37-year-old angler lives in Bossier City, La., with his wife, Jolene, their twin 5-year-old boys, Jaxson and Jayce, and Sadie who is 18 months old.

“Jolene is the most important person on my team,” LeBrun said. “I can focus on fishing because I know she’s taking care of everything at home.”

LeBrun’s sponsors include Skeeter, Yamaha, Covington Lumber and Building Materials, Pumps Plus, Bill Lewis, Lowrance, Advantage Reliability, Despino Tire Service, Cypress Baptist Church, V&M Baits, Fitzgerald Rods, 4:19 Tackle, Power-Pole, AFTCO, Hayabusa, Producer Swimbaits, Elite Tungsten, Christ Fit Gym, Sunline, Premier Sonar and G2Gemini.