You’d be hard-pressed to find a professional bass angler with a higher check-cashing percentage than Team Toyota’s Brandon Lester, but even he has an occasional terrible tournament day. Like Day 1 on the St. Johns River, where he zeroed in shocking fashion a couple seasons ago, or more recently on Day 1 of the 2023 Bassmaster Elite on Lay Lake where he managed just 6-pounds and landed in 100th place.
Those extremely bad days are very rare for Lester, but what’s most impressive is how he rallies back so strong the very next day. At the St. Johns he went from a goose egg, to 19-pounds on Day 2, and at Lay Lake he caught 17-pounds on Day 2 to jump 60 places upward on the leaderboard, and made the Top 50 cut.
So how does he turnaround a train wreck?
“As you might guess, it’s 70% mental, and a huge part of that is being mature enough as an angler to scrap everything you might have planned on doing, and starting totally fresh the next day,” says Lester.
For example, at Lay Lake, based on what he found in practice, he thought he’d use forward facing sonar and a jerkbait to catch bass suspended around trees, but that flat-out failed him, and netted him just three squeakers totaling 6-pounds.
“That plan landed me in 100th place, and that’s not a spot I like hanging around. Ask my wife, Kim, I was one really unhappy dude. But I knew I had about 12 hours to scrap every perception and the plan that failed me, dig myself out, put a confidence bait in my hand, and start over trying to clue-in on the morning of Day 2,” reflects Lester.
And boy, did he! Lester totally ditched the forward facing sonar and suspended bass plan in exchange for a run up the river with a confidence-building shaky head to find the Coosa River’s famous spotted bass.
“I don’t have a favorite lure, but we all have lures that we know can get us a bite when just about all else fails, and for me a shaky head is one of them. One of my first bites on Day 2 with the shaky head was a 4-pound spotted bass, and it gave me the clue I was desperately searching for to get my tournament back on track,” says Lester.
Lester emphasizes leaning on a bait you know generates bites to search for that first key clue, versus experimenting with a wide variety of lures, and running around like a tiger with its tail on fire in an act of desperation.
“Every tournament angler will inevitably have a really bad day. That’s a fact. The key is to mature mentally to be able to scrap it, have a great attitude and go find a clue the next day,” says Lester in matter of fact fashion.
History proves he knows what he’s talking about. He’s one of the best in the world at rebuilding from a blunder, and cashing a check. In fact, he’s cashed a check in 75% of the B.A.S.S. events he’s competed in. A percentage higher than just about anybody to ever pick up a baitcasting reel.