Open: Team Lester cheers on from afar

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Open: Team Lester cheers on from afar

When the derby did wrap, the 32-year-old Elite Series pro had won his first Bassmaster title after posting 21 previous Top 10 finishes. Brandon came

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When the derby did wrap, the 32-year-old Elite Series pro had won his first Bassmaster title after posting 21 previous Top 10 finishes. Brandon came from behind to win the tournament, finishing with a three-day total of 51 pounds, 2 ounces and claiming $52,500 in the process. He also locked up a spot in the 2023 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk, which will be held in his home state (Tennessee River, Knoxville) next March.

Kim tried to make it to Kissimmee Saturday morning but couldn’t score a commercial flight in time for the weigh-in at 3 p.m. Eastern. Refusing to give up easily, she called a half dozen different people near Fayetteville who own private planes.

“I spoke with people in two different counties,” she said. “They all were willing to fly me down there, and only for the cost of fuel. But I just couldn’t make it down there in time.”

That helped make the Local Café the second-best place to be for Brandon Lester fans on Saturday. B.A.S.S. staffer Dannette Jackson scrambled into the crowd at Big Toho to FaceTime Kim back in Tennessee so the few dozen people there could get a close-up of Brandon’s win.

“I’m crying,” Kim said after her husband’s win. “We’re just so proud of our boy. And for Dannette to FaceTime so we could see it from that angle – it just shows that B.A.S.S. is behind the fishing families 100 percent.”

Kim said she won’t be able to make it to the AFTCO Bassmaster Elite Series tournament at St. Johns River next week, but she plans to bring the Lesters’ two young children to the SiteOne Bassmaster Elite on the Harris Chain of Lakes when it’s held Feb. 17-20 in Leesburg, Fla.

“That one’s closer to Disney World, so I can bring the kids during the day when daddy is out on the water,” she said. “And they’ll get to spend some time with him at night. So it’ll be double the fun for them.”

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