25-year-old former college angler graduates to Bassmaster Classic champion
HOUSTON — In 2013, Jordan Lee was a member of the Auburn University fishing team.
Now, he’s on top of the professional bass fishing world.
The 25-year-old pro from Guntersville, Ala., stayed within striking distance all week at the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. Then, during Sunday’s final round at Minute Maid Park, he caught five bass from Lake Conroe that weighed 27 pounds, 4 ounces, pushing his three-day total to a tournament-best 56-10.
Lee earned $300,000 and the most coveted trophy in the sport, while Steve Kennedy — a resident of Auburn, Ala. — finished second with 55-1.
Sunday began with Lee planning to fish his magic point all day — even if the fishing had fizzled. As it turns out, he didn’t have much of a choice.
Engine troubles left him without the ability to run from spot to spot and forced him to milk every possible bite out of the point. He eventually had to hitch a ride back to the weigh-in with a spectator that he knew from Cullman, Ala. — a legal ploy in the Classic, as long as no fishing takes place in the spectator’s boat.
Lee’s main baits were a Strike King 5XD crankbait in the citrus shad color pattern, a football jig with a Rage Craw and a Space Monkey for a trailer and a Bullworm on a magnum shaky head.
Of the hundreds of points on Conroe, Lee said it was one section of hard bottom that seemed to make his point special. Casting across the point — rather than parallel to it — was the better play all week.
Brent Ehrler of Newport Beach, Calif., earned the Berkley Big Bass Award of $2,500 for the largest fish of the event with a 9-12 largemouth he caught on Friday. He also earned the GEICO Everyday Leader Award of $1,000 and the $1,500 GEICO Everyday Leader Bonus for leading both Friday and Saturday.
Other finishers of note were Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., 10th place for $20,000, and Dave Lefebre of Erie, Pa., 14th for $15,000.
The first day, competitors weighed 200 fish totaling 669 pounds, followed by 151 fish weighing 489 pounds Saturday and 86 fish at 305 pounds Sunday.
The event drew thousands of people to morning takeoffs at Lake Conroe Park, the Outdoors Expo presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods and the daily weigh-ins at Minute Maid Park, home of Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros.
— B.A.S.S. Communications