Other than the fact his wife Kim is an avid Vols fan, and they are residents of Tennessee, the perception by many that Team Toyota’s Brandon Lester is fishing ‘home waters’ this week at the Bassmaster Classic in Knoxville is absolutely false.
“From fans to media interviews, I hear people say all the time that this is a home game for me. But it’s not. Other than the 2019 Classic, the Elite Series event we had here two years ago, and the past three days of practice, I’ve never fished here,” laughs Lester.
In fact, it’s nearly a four-hour drive from downtown Knoxville to Lester’s beloved hometown of Fayetteville. And frankly, there are so many legendary fisheries between the two, he simply never had much reason to fish Loudon and Tellico out of Knoxville.
Tims Ford and Guntersville are actually the two lakes he calls his home lakes and spends considerable time fishing when not on tour. So how then, did he make such a strong showing at the 2019 Classic in Knoxville, when he notched a 6th place finish having never been here before?
“It’s the Tennessee River, and it’s no secret I love Tennessee River impoundments. This place reminds me a lot of Wheeler, especially the Loudon part of it. Loudon features a lot of the really typical pre-spawn stuff I’m familiar with on other Tennessee River lakes like gravel bars, mud bars, a few stumps, shallow flats, laydowns, and lots of off-colored water,” explains Lester.
That said, Lester thinks that while the smallmouth in Tellico remain the big X-factor at most tournaments here, Loudon provides a fun Classic playing field for old school power fishing techniques with spinnerbaits, squarebill crankbaits, chatterbaits, and jigs in less than 6-feet of water where he feels very much at home.
So, while this week is by no means a home game for Lester, much like his wife Kim on gameday Saturdays at Neyland Stadium in the fall, he feels very comfortable and confident here, with a 6th place finish at the mid-March 2019 Bassmaster Classic to prove it.