Boxing’s “cutmen” are responsible for managing a fighter’s lacerations during a match to help him continue competing effectively, but on the 2022 Bassmaster Elite Series tour, no other angler has made more “cuts” than Team Toyota’s Brandon Lester.
Entering this week’s final regular season Elite Series event on the Upper Mississippi River at LaCrosse, Lester is the only angler on tour to make every semi-qualifier round this season once the entire field of anglers in the opening rounds is cut in half, and he highlighted the streak by winning at Pickwick in June.
Not to mention, Lester made ‘the cut’ in both Bassmaster Opens he competed in this year and claimed victory at the Southern Open at the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes in early February.
“Obviously, everybody on the Elite Series wants to make the cut, get at least a $10,000 paycheck, and the chance to fish on Championship Sunday. But at the St. Lawrence River, I started realizing I had the chance to make every single cut this season, including the Opens, and that’s pretty special,” smiled the always humble Tennessean.
Never did his streak come so close to ending as last week at Lake Oahe, SD, but in true Brandon Lester style, he squeaked into the semi-final Saturday by grabbing the final cut spot in 47th place.
“I thought there was no way I was gonna make it after catching 10-pounds on Day 1, but on Day 2, my 12-pound limit was barely enough to make it,” says Lester, still shaking his head in disbelief.
Asked what two lures he’d call his MVP of this incredible season, he singled out a Berkley Maxscent plum apple-colored worm that helped him win Pickwick and a 3/8-ounce Chatterbait Jackhammer tipped with a Lake Fork Live Magic Shad – none of which are sponsor’s lures.
However, there’s more than just “making cuts” on the line this week in La Crosse. Lester sits barely behind Brandon Palaniuk in the Progressive Insurance Bassmaster Angler of the Year title race and could, in fact, win the highly respected title if Palaniuk slips up.
“Palaniuk really has to stumble, and that seldom happens. So, my focus is purely on doing my job and ensuring I put myself in a position to win in the rare event he struggles,” says Lester.
That starts with making the cut for the chance to compete on Sunday and Monday, and nobody has been better at that this year than Lester.