Brandon Lester Leads Day One of 2022 Bassmaster Elite Series Harris Chain

Bucks Falcon Mercury

LEESBURG, Fla. — Building on the momentum of his recent success, Tennessee pro Brandon Lester caught a five-bass limit of 23 pounds Thursday to lead the first round of the SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at Harris Chain.

Two weeks after winning the St. Croix Bassmaster Southern Open on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, about an hour south of Leesburg, Lester holds the top spot in a tight Top 10 with only 2-7 separating first and 10th

2022 Bassmaster Elite Series Harris Chain Day One Leader Brandon Lester – photo by Christina O’Sullivan – AdvancedAngler

places. Lester will enter Day 2 with a 1 ounce lead over second-place Pat Schlapper of Eleva, Wis.

“People call it momentum, but I think you get into a good rhythm and a good pace,” Lester said. “In tournament fishing, sometimes it’s like you’re out there and the day just flies by; but right now, I’m out there (during a tournament day) and it’s like I have all the time in the world.

“It’s like I don’t have a care in the world. Part of that is the fact that I’ve already qualified for the (2023 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk, to be held in Knoxville, Tenn., March 24-26). That takes a load off. Good things are happening out there and I’m having fun.”

Dividing his day between three different lakes, Lester focused on shallow flipping with a 7 3/4-inch Bitter’s Mega Wand in the junebug color. He spent most of his time blind bed fishing — targeting unseen fish in likely spawning areas.

“I caught one of them that I was actually looking at on the bed,” Lester said. “I was actually just fishing at that time and I looked down and it was like, ‘Oh my.’ I only caught that one off a bed and the other four came while I was just fishing.”

When he was blind casting the bedding areas, Lester fished his worm unweighted and Texas-rigged. For sight fishing, he added a Humdinger Power Spinner — a screw-in willowleaf blade for added appeal.

“You have to fish this bait slow,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing in Florida — if you go down a bank just cast, cast, cast, cast — you’ll fish right over top of them. You have to pitch it in there and just shake it in place. Most of the time, after you start shaking it, they’ll grab it.”

Lester said his day unfolded mostly as planned. He secured a limit by 10 a.m. and had his weight by 12:30. After that, he committed the rest of his day purely to sight fishing.

Despite Thursday’s promising complexion — a warming trend coinciding with a full moon phase — Lester said he did not find the shallow action he was expecting.

“After I got a good bag, I just went strictly sight fishing and looking for a great big one,” he said. “I knew I needed a good one to cull. I’m just not seeing the females up there. There are a lot of males all over the place, but the females are not showing up like I thought they would.

“It could be any day. You have to keep checking it, because if you’re the guy who misses out on that and they do show up, you’re going to look like a dummy.”

Capitalizing when opportunity availed, Schlapper is in second place with 22-15. Reporting an active day, he said a midday flurry dramatically changed his outcome.

“I had those two big bites and probably caught another 10 or 11 keepers,” Schlapper said. “My other ones were 2- to 2 1/2-pounders. Those two big fish made my bag.

“In Florida, you just never know when you’re going to get that big bite and I just got two of them and got them in the boat. One was a bed fish and the other one I got just fishing.”

Schlapper said he caught bass on a variety of presentations that included jerkbaits, lipless baits and flipping. He caught both of his big fish by flipping a Texas-rigged Big Bite Baits Fighting Frog in a small canal.

Buddy Gross of Chattanooga, Tenn., is in third with 22-12. Initial disappointment ultimately led him to a successful day, as crowded waters forced a change of game plan.

“I just made some really good decisions today,” Gross said. “Everything I wanted to fish got really crowded this morning and there were 15 to 20 boats sitting where I wanted to go, so I just stopped a little sooner, started fishing and picked up one or two.

“I went to another place and picked up one or two and then I just started keying in on them. They were little to start with but about midday I started culling up and it started getting a lot better.”

Gross said the fishing pressure pushed his bass away from where he thought they would be, but he was able to relocate them on isolated places amid offshore grass. He caught his fish on moving baits.

“I can catch them on anything,” Gross said. “When you find them, they’re biting.”

Jamie Hartman of Newport, N.Y., is in the lead for Phoenix Boats Big Bass honors with his 8-10 largemouth. Lester’s Day 1 lead has him atop the VMC Monster Bag standings for the event’s heaviest limit.

David Mullins of Mt. Carmel, Tenn., leads the Angler of the Year standings with 186 points. Scott Canterbury of Odenville, Ala., is second with 183, followed by John Cox of DeBary, Fla., with 183, Hartman with 180 and Jake Whitaker of Fairview, N.C., with 178.

Jay Przekurat of Stevens Point, Wis., leads the Falcon Rods Rookie of the Year standings with 135 points.

Friday’s takeoff is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. ET at Venetian Gardens (Ski Beach). The weigh-in will be held back at Venetian Gardens (Ski Beach) at 3:30 p.m. Only the Top 47 remaining anglers will advance to Saturday’s semifinal round. Full coverage will be available on Bassmaster.com.

The tournament is being hosted by Visit Lake, FL.

2022 Bassmaster Elite Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota
2022 Bassmaster Elite Series Premier Sponsors: Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Ranger Boats, Rapala, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha
2022 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: AFTCO, Daiwa, Garmin, Huk Performance Fishing, Marathon, Strike King, Triton Boats, VMC

2022 Bassmaster Conservation Partners: AFTCO, Yamaha Rightwaters

About B.A.S.S.
B.A.S.S., which encompasses the Bassmaster tournament leagues, events and media platforms, is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 515,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), TV show, radio show, social media programs and events. For more than 50 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, St. Croix Bassmaster Opens Series, TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Series, Strike King Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Abu Garcia Bassmaster High School Series presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Team Championship, Yamaha Rightwaters Bassmaster Kayak Series powered by TourneyX, Yamaha Bassmaster Redfish Cup Championship presented by Skeeter and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk.

2022 SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at Harris Chain of Lakes 2/17-2/20
Harris Chain Of Lakes, Leesburg  FL.
(PROFESSIONAL) Standings Day 1

Angler                   Hometown              No./lbs-oz  Pts   Total $$$

1.  Brandon Lester         Fayetteville, TN         5  23-00  100
Day 1: 5   23-00
2.  Pat Schlapper          Eleva, WI                5  22-15   99
Day 1: 5   22-15
3.  Buddy Gross            Chatanooga, TN           5  22-12   98
Day 1: 5   22-12
4.  Ray Hanselman Jr       Del Rio, TX              5  22-00   97
Day 1: 5   22-00
5.  Bryan Schmitt          Deale, MD                5  21-13   96
Day 1: 5   21-13
6.  Jamie Hartman          Newport, NY              5  21-04   95   $1,000.00
Day 1: 5   21-04
7.  Scott Canterbury       Odenville, AL            5  21-00   94
Day 1: 5   21-00
7.  Brandon Palaniuk       Rathdrum, ID             5  21-00   94
Day 1: 5   21-00
9.  Jay Yelas              Turner, OR               5  20-14   92
Day 1: 5   20-14
10. Jake Whitaker          Fairview, NC             5  20-09   91
Day 1: 5   20-09
11. David Mullins          Mt Carmel, TN            5  20-02   90
Day 1: 5   20-02
12. Tyler Rivet            Raceland, LA             5  19-10   89
Day 1: 5   19-10
13. Bernie Schultz         Gainesville, FL          5  19-03   88
Day 1: 5   19-03
14. Rick Clunn             Ava, MO                  5  18-15   87
Day 1: 5   18-15
15. John Cox               Debary, FL               5  18-07   86
Day 1: 5   18-07
16. Brandon Card           Salisbury, NC            5  18-06   85
Day 1: 5   18-06
17. Matt Robertson         Kuttawa, KY              5  17-10   84
Day 1: 5   17-10
18. Seth Feider            New Market, MN           5  17-07   83
Day 1: 5   17-07
19. Luke Palmer            Coalgate, OK             5  17-05   82
Day 1: 5   17-05
20. Brandon Cobb           Greenwood, SC            5  17-02   81
Day 1: 5   17-02
21. Scott Martin           Clewiston, FL            5  17-01   80
Day 1: 5   17-01
22. Brock Mosley           Collinsville, MS         5  16-10   79
Day 1: 5   16-10
23. Kenta Kimura           Osaka JAPAN              5  16-07   78
Day 1: 5   16-07
24. Jacob Powroznik        North Prince George, VA  5  16-03   77
Day 1: 5   16-03
25. Jason Christie         Park Hill, OK            5  16-02   76
Day 1: 5   16-02
25. Gerald Swindle         Guntersville, AL         5  16-02   76
Day 1: 5   16-02
27. Bryan New              Saluda, SC               5  15-15   74
Day 1: 5   15-15
28. Brad Whatley           Bivins, TX               5  15-12   73
Day 1: 5   15-12
29. Greg Hackney           Gonzales, LA             5  15-07   72
Day 1: 5   15-07
30. Bill Lowen             Brookville, IN           5  15-05   71
Day 1: 5   15-05
31. KJ Queen               Catawba, NC              5  15-05   70
Day 1: 5   15-05
32. Marc Frazier           Newnan, GA               5  15-03   69
Day 1: 5   15-03
32. Cory Johnston          Cavan CANADA             5  15-03   69
Day 1: 5   15-03
34. Michael Iaconelli      Pittsgrove, NJ           5  14-14   67
Day 1: 5   14-14
34. Jay Przekurat          Stevens Point, WI        5  14-14   67
Day 1: 5   14-14
36. Chad Pipkens           Dewitt, MI               5  14-12   65
Day 1: 5   14-12
37. Keith Combs            Huntington, TX           5  14-10   64
Day 1: 5   14-10
38. Stetson Blaylock       Benton, AR               5  14-09   63
Day 1: 5   14-09
39. Jeff Gustafson         Keewatin Ontario CANADA  5  14-08   62
Day 1: 5   14-08
39. David Williams         Newton, NC               5  14-08   62
Day 1: 5   14-08
41. Mark Menendez          Paducah, KY              5  14-06   60
Day 1: 5   14-06
41. Clifford Pirch         Payson, AZ               5  14-06   60
Day 1: 5   14-06
43. Shane LeHew            Catawba, NC              5  14-01   58
Day 1: 5   14-01
44. Mike Huff              London, KY               5  14-01   57
Day 1: 5   14-01
45. Matt Arey              Shelby, NC               5  14-00   56
Day 1: 5   14-00
46. Drew Cook              Cairo, GA                5  13-13   55
Day 1: 5   13-13
47. Drew Benton            Blakely, GA              5  13-11   54
Day 1: 5   13-11
47. Gregory DiPalma        Millville, NJ            5  13-11   54
Day 1: 5   13-11
49. John Crews Jr          Salem, VA                5  13-10   52
Day 1: 5   13-10
49. Lee Livesay            Longview, TX             5  13-10   52
Day 1: 5   13-10
51. Carl Jocumsen          Queensland AUSTRALIA     5  13-09   50
Day 1: 5   13-09
52. Chris Zaldain          Fort Worth, TX           5  13-07   49
Day 1: 5   13-07
53. Micah Frazier          Newnan, GA               5  13-06   48
Day 1: 5   13-06
54. Todd Auten             Lake Wylie, SC           5  13-05   47
Day 1: 5   13-05
55. Chad Morgenthaler      Reeds Spring, MO         5  13-00   46
Day 1: 5   13-00
55. Hunter Shryock         Ooltewah, TN             5  13-00   46
Day 1: 5   13-00
55. Kyle Welcher           Opelika, AL              5  13-00   46
Day 1: 5   13-00
58. Joshua Stracner        Vandiver, AL             5  12-14   43
Day 1: 5   12-14
59. Taku Ito               Chiba JAPAN              5  12-13   42
Day 1: 5   12-13
59. Ed Loughran III        Richmond, VA             5  12-13   42
Day 1: 5   12-13
61. Koby Kreiger           Alva, FL                 5  12-08   40
Day 1: 5   12-08
62. Hank Cherry Jr         Lincolnton, NC           5  12-04   39
Day 1: 5   12-04
62. Jacob Foutz            Charleston, TN           5  12-04   39
Day 1: 5   12-04
64. Jason Williamson       Wagener, SC              5  11-15   37
Day 1: 5   11-15
65. Clent Davis            Montevallo, AL           5  11-14   36
Day 1: 5   11-14
66. Patrick Walters        Summerville, SC          5  11-13   35
Day 1: 5   11-13
67. Justin Hamner          Northport, AL            5  11-12   34
Day 1: 5   11-12
67. Matt Herren            Ashville, AL             5  11-12   34
Day 1: 5   11-12
69. Darold Gleason         Many, LA                 5  11-05   32
Day 1: 5   11-05
70. Gary Clouse            Winchester, TN           5  11-02   31
Day 1: 5   11-02
70. Austin Felix           Eden Prairie, MN         5  11-02   31
Day 1: 5   11-02
72. David Fritts           Lexington, NC            3  11-02   29
Day 1: 3   11-02
73. Chris Johnston         Otonabee Ontario CANADA  5  11-01   28
Day 1: 5   11-01
74. Wes Logan              Springville, AL          5  11-00   27
Day 1: 5   11-00
75. Josh Douglas           Isle, MN                 5  10-14   26
Day 1: 5   10-14
75. Paul Mueller           Naugatuck, CT            5  10-14   26
Day 1: 5   10-14
77. Cody Huff              Ava, MO                  5  10-13   24
Day 1: 5   10-13
78. Jonathan Kelley        Old Forge, PA            5  10-12   23
Day 1: 5   10-12
79. Joseph Webster         Hamilton, AL             5  10-10   22
Day 1: 5   10-10
80. Caleb Sumrall          New Iberia, LA           5  10-02   21
Day 1: 5   10-02
81. Masayuki Matsushita    Tokoname-Shi JAPAN       5  10-01   20
Day 1: 5   10-01
82. Clark Wendlandt        Leander, TX              5  10-00   19
Day 1: 5   10-00
83. Bob Downey             Hudson, WI               5  09-15   18
Day 1: 5   09-15
84. Steve Kennedy          Auburn, AL               5  09-12   17
Day 1: 5   09-12
85. Cliff Prince           Palatka, FL              5  09-03   16
Day 1: 5   09-03
86. Skylar Hamilton        Dandridge, TN            5  08-13   15
Day 1: 5   08-13
87. Frank Talley           Temple, TX               5  08-07   14
Day 1: 5   08-07
88. Caleb Kuphall          Mukwonago, WI            5  08-02   13
Day 1: 5   08-02
89. Justin Atkins          Florence, AL             5  07-14   12
Day 1: 5   07-14
90. Daisuke Aoki           Minamitsurugun Yamanash  4  07-05   11
Day 1: 4   07-05
91. Matty Wong             Honolulu, HI             5  06-08   10
Day 1: 5   06-08
92. Alex Redwine           Blue Ash, OH             3  03-15    9
Day 1: 3   03-15
93. Jesse Tacoronte        Kissimmee, FL            1  03-04    8
Day 1: 1   03-04
94. Derek Hudnall          Denham Springs, LA       1  01-08    7
Day 1: 1   01-08
———————————————————————–

PHOENIX BOATS BIG BASS
Day
1   Jamie Hartman            Newport, NY         08-10      $1,000.00

———————————————————————–
Totals
Day   #Limits    #Fish      Weight
1        89       457      1312-14
———————————-
89       457      1312-14