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Why the Lesters love Florida

Why the Lesters love Florida

(Editor's note: Here's another short feature from Alan McGuckin at Dynamic Sponsorships.)

The Bassmaster Elite Series has begun a two-week run of events in Florida, and Fayetteville, Tenn.-based pro Brandon Lester and his family couldn’t be happier. From manatee parks to Top-5 tournament finishes, the Sunshine State has enriched their lives.

The Team Toyota angler scored a 5th-place finish the last time the Elite Series was here on the Harris Chain of Lakes two years ago, and took home $20,000. Plus, he finished 5th in 2019 here at the Bassmaster Open, and let’s not forget he won an Open just down the road at Kissimmee in 2022.

Not bad for a Tennessee River rat who compliments countless days on Guntersville and Pickwick with lots of time on deep and clear Tims Ford Lake in Tennessee.

So how do his home waters, a 10-hour drive from Lake County, Fla., translate to such impressive success on that state's shallow, aquatic vegetation-filled lakes?

“I was really lucky early in my career to get the chance to pick the brains of some of Central Florida’s best bass anglers. I tried to learn a ton from them, because I knew as a young touring pro that I had to be successful in Florida if I wanted long-term success in this sport,” he explains.

“Plus, I just really love it down here. I feel at home when I’m in Florida. I live in a sportsmen’s paradise in Tennessee, but when it’s freezing cold there in January and February, you can come down here and fish for 8-pound spawners. Not to mention, it’s beautiful. If you’ve never idled through the Dora Canal, I’d really encourage you to see it."

However, it’s not just about bass fishing, it’s about family. His wife Kim loves it here equally as much, and says the long-term goal is to be snowbirds in retirement and fly south from Tennessee for winter here in Lake County.

But Thursday it was a family field trip to see manatees, Kim’s favorite wild critter, at Blue Springs State Park. They saw a dozen different species of fish too, ranging from bluegill to gar, and young daughter Shiloh hauled home a multi-colored stuffed manatee as proof of time well spent.

“We love all the small communities here in Lake County, but you’re also not far at all from the huge attractions like SeaWorld and Disney in Orlando. For a young family, you just can’t hardly beat a week at a Bassmaster event on the Harris Chain of Lakes,” said Mrs. Lester, a personal fitness instructor.

Only one thing could put an exclamation mark on an already great week in Lake County for the Lesters – hoisting their second blue Elite Series trophy. If that happens, they might not wait until retirement to move here.

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