provided by John Phillips
Mossy Oak Fishing Pro Brandon Lester, 31 years old from Fayetteville, Tennessee, has fished 87 Bassmaster events and won $603,374. In 2018, he was the points champion and Angler of the Year and has 19 top-10 finishes on Bassmaster. To learn more about Lester, visit https://brandonlesterfishing.com/.
How did you become a successful bass fisherman?
To work as a professional bass angler requires a whole lot of hard work and a major passion for bass fishing. To be a tournament bass fisherman, you have to love fishing for bass every day you’re on the water. You'll have days where you don’t do well and don’t catch many fish, and you'll enjoy days that you do well and catch several really big fish. However, overall, you’ll probably have more bad days than you will good days. I’ve been real fortunate to have made a check in 65 percent of the tournaments I've fished in, and I'm very proud of that fact. I've learned that if you're making checks in most of the tournaments you’ve fished – then that fact allows you to keep on going down the road and tournament fishing.
Bass fishing in a way is much like playing baseball. Some batters will go to home plate looking for that one pitch that they know they can hit out of the park, but if they don’t get that pitch, they realize they’ll probably strike out. But I like to try and be like the batter that can hit every pitch - whether it’s a single, a double, a bunt or a homerun. I like to think I can catch bass flipping or move up into shallow water and catch them, or go out to deep water and fish deep structure. I try not to have one technique that I favor over any other tactic. I want to stay as versatile as I can be.
How do you get sponsors?
Before I started fishing the Bassmaster Elite Series, I never gave much thought to sponsors. I just wanted to keep fishing and win enough money to get to the next tournament and pay my bills. I’ve learned that when you concentrate on your fishing and start winning tournaments the sponsors will come see you. You don’t have to go and find them. Now, I don’t mean they will come knocking on your door exactly, but if you’re a consistent winner and/or a consistent top-10 finisher, you'll have a much better chance of getting sponsors than you will have if you win one tournament and land in the bottom half of the field for the next 20 or 25 tournaments.
Getting sponsors for tournament bass fishing is like getting a job in any other industry. You have to know the sponsors, and they have to like you and being around you, the way you present yourself to the public, the way you deal with the other fishermen and the way you deal with the press and the spectators. At a tournament, the sponsors don’t just look at the amount of bass you bring to the scales each day or where you finish in that tournament. They’re watching you to decide what kind of person you are. Are you on time to tournaments, do you arrive on time to the weigh-in, are you friendly with the fans, do you take the time to sign autographs, do you answer questions, do you give the press time for interviews and photographs, have you got a smile on your face and greet everybody who comes up to you with a handshake and a smile, or do you have a frown on your face and act like you're mad at the world? I always want to treat people well, and then I don’t have to burn a bridge with anybody in the fishing industry.