Team Toyota’s Brandon Lester is a good husband and daddy with a typically grateful outlook.
But the bag of homemade chocolate chip cookies I gave him from my mom’s kitchen seemed to be his biggest reason to smile after two long days of practice on the St. Lawrence River that have darn near knocked the wind out of his sails – or better said, slammed into his sails at about 20 non-stop miles per hour.
“Man, I don’t mean to seem down-and-out, but this southwest wind has been relentless for two days, and it makes it super tough to present a drop shot to give you a feel for what’s truly going on,” says Lester, who nearly won this event a year ago, before finishing third.
If you doubt Lester’s wind gauge, then check your wristwatch. He was pulling out of the water at 5:30 p.m. on Monday evening, when normally he’d fish until 7 p.m., and his trolling motor batteries were nearly dead.
Still, with just one official day of practice remaining, the Tennessee native remains optimistic he can figure things out enough to keep his streak of success on the St. Lawrence very much alive.
“This is a huge river, and the fact that the water levels are higher than normal doesn’t spin me out at all. But you can’t get caught up trying to fish too many miles of it. Instead, you gotta work to find that magical two-mile stretch where you’ve got a chance to win,” he says.
If Brandon Lester challenges for the victory this week — after the win very narrowly eluded him last year — you can almost bet he’ll be drop shotting an X Zone Lures Slim Slammer on a Mustad #4 Wacky Neko hook.
In the meantime, he’s just hoping the ornery southwest winds will die long enough to let him get a better feel for this place during Tuesday’s final official practice day while enjoying a bite of a homemade chocolate chip cookie.