According to his mom, Team Toyota’s Brandon Lester always wanted to be a clown for Halloween. “But get this, he was scared to death of clowns. We took him to the circus, sat in the front row, and when the clowns came to see him, he screamed bloody murder,” says Lester’s mom, Kim.
It’s not just clowns. Lester’s wife says he hates haunted houses too. And while huge plastic spiders don’t scare him, big waves on large bodies of water like St. Clair, Erie and Toledo Bend rival clowns and spooky houses for the good natured pro from the Tennessee-Alabama border.
“The scariest thing about Lake St. Clair is absolutely 100 percent the wind and the big waves,” says Lester. “I’ve been a full-time pro for six years, and big waves still scare the heck out of me."
Unfortunately, practice is playing out like a bad combination of Poltergeist and The Conjuring this week on St. Clair, as winds screamed up to 30 mph from the southwest on Wednesday, and switched to 20 mph from the west on Thursday.
“I hide in the St. Clair River,” grins Lester. “It’s obviously way more protected than the main lake, and it’s a place where winning stringers of smallmouth live. Chris Lane proved that in 2013, and other guys caught ‘em good in the river too.”
Lester sits sixth overall in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year points, so he’s a lock for the 2020 Bassmaster Classic. And while it’d take a small miracle for him to steal the AOY title this week, he can pretty much just relax and fish freely with hopes of earning a slightly fatter paycheck.
When asked if he takes any extra precautions for riding big waves, Lester says he only adds extra rod straps to prevent his custom Mud Hole sticks from jumping overboard, but he doesn’t carry an extra bilge pump like some anglers do.
“I took a big wave over the bow on Toledo Bend one time that filled the boat up with water. Because down there, you pretty much have to stay in the buoyed boat lanes to avoid hitting underwater timber. So you’re really restricted on your ability to drive the direction you need to in order to avoid the big waves – and that lake can get nasty!” warns Lester.
“The thing that really frustrates me is it always seems like the guys who are daring enough to make those long runs in big waves like St. Clair and Erie, are the ones who win or do really well. And man, I just can’t make myself do that,” says Lester shaking his head.
Turkey hunting, custom rod building, beach trips with family or a big plate of spaghetti – Lester loves that stuff. Plastic spiders are okay too. Just don’t ask him to hang out with a scary clown at a haunted house or to run his trusty Phoenix through ocean-like waves.