By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
Just about every decision that Jordan Lee made during his 2020 MLF Bass Pro Tour Angler of the Year campaign was spot-on. Such hasn't been the case this year, though, and he has to keep from bombing in the final regular-season event at Lake St. Clair to ensure himself a berth in the 2022 REDCREST Championship.
Let's be clear here: Lee has by no means had what would be considered a poor season. But relative to what he did last year (four Top-10s, including a Heavy Hitters win, on a schedule shortened to five events due to the pandemic), it's just seemed a little lackluster.
He's 33rd on this year's points list with one Top-10 placement (Lake Chickamauga in June) and one other Top-20 (a 15th at the St. Lawrence River later that month). He's ended up in the lower half of the field in the other four outings.
"It's definitely disappointing when you're not performing the way you think you should and the way you're capable of," he said. "To me, it's all about decisions in practice and I feel like mine haven't really been great all year except for maybe a couple where I felt like I practiced well.
"That leads to not making the right choices in the tournaments, where you've gotta be catching fish all day. That's where a lot of it comes from."
Some Faulty Guesses
With the practice period limited to just two days, Lee said it's imperative for BPT anglers to arrive at the venue with some type of preconceived idea of what the fish will be doing. His prognostications this year haven't been nearly as accurate as they were in 2020.
He said there haven't been any substantial changes to his preparation routine. He didn't pre-practice at any of the venues ahead of the off-limits periods, but he hasn't done that for several years.
He knew it was unlikely he'd have a second straight season as spectacular as last year's, but he'd hoped to fare better than he has to this point.
"I started out with momentum that wasn't really great, not being around the right kind of fish, and I haven't really figured them out," he said. "For me, when I get in a bad sequence of tournaments, it starts playing with my mind a little bit, and then you start losing a fish here and a fish there and it can really affect your tournament. I had a few this year where if I hadn't had one get away, it could've changed the outcome.
"When you do real well, you obviously don't look back and wonder what you could've changed, but that's something you always do when you don't do well."
Would Like to Be Busier
In hindsight, Lee said he regrets not taking advantage of his opportunity to fish both the BPT and the Pro Circuit this year.
"It was something I was up in the air about (during last off-season). Having a long time off between tournaments hasn't helped because it's just more time that you're stewing on things.
"I think next year I'm going to fish more events. That way if you have a bad one, you can get back in the swing of things quicker and try to make up for it."
For the immediate future, his focus is on Lake St. Clair. His last two outings there, in Bassmaster Elite Series events in 2015 and '17, resulted in 29th- and 4th-place finishes.
"I honestly don't really feel any pressure," he said. "When I look at my performance this year, I'm surprised that I'm not father down than I am. If I do what I'm supposed to do things will work out and if I don't, then it just wasn't meant to be. If I don't go out and catch them, then I don't deserve to make the championship.
"I'm sitting decent in the points, but not great. I'm not going to be thinking about the points – I'm going to go out and try to win. Of course, that's easier said than done."