By Alan McGuckin
Seconds after Jordan Lee was crowned Bassmaster Classic champion inside Houston's Minute Maid Park last March, his slightly older professional bass angling brother, Matt, rushed from the seats along the third base line to the stage to offer up a congratulatory bear hug.
It's fair to say, the Lee brothers can be as different as spinning reels and baitcasters. Matt has an engineer's mind, Jordan majored in marketing. Matt analyzes everything while Jordan just goes with the flow.
But ever since they were teens fishing around the protected cove of Lake Guntersville Yacht Club, they've fostered dreams of some day fishing in the Classic together. And this week, they will. In fact, they'll become only the fourth pair of brothers to fish a Classic together in the event's 48-year history.
We caught up with them separately to sample their thoughts leading into bass fishing's biggest event on Lake Hartwell March 16-18.
Question 1: If we'd have stopped you on Auburn's famed Toomer's Corner during your college days and told you that in 2018 you'd be fishing in the Bassmaster Classic with your brother - what would you have said?
Matt: "I didn't doubt that Jordan and I would get a chance to fish the Classic together. It was more a matter of how long we'd have to wait. Before I won the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Championship, I figured I'd have to get a job and save enough money to fish professionally. But fortunately, I started fishing professionally right out of college. I'd like to see us finish first and second this year, but preferably I get the win since Jordan won it last year."
Jordan: "I would have said that's what the plan is. Fishing is something we're both really passionate about, and I think we both knew we would be together in the Classic at some point."
Question 2: Without peeking in your brother's rod locker, what two lures can you just about guarantee us he's taking to Lake Hartwell?
Matt: Maybe a Jordan Lee Comeback Jig if he's really optimistic, and a dropshot, as much as he'd rather not dropshot, he knows it's deadly.
Jordan: I'll bet he's packing swimbaits and wacky worms - for sure!
Question 3: What do you believe will be the biggest challenge at the Bassmaster Classic?
Matt: "Weather and changing conditions like rising or falling water. There's a good chance somebody could really find the fish in practice, but conditions will change and they'll struggle in the tournament, or vice versa, somebody may struggle in practice, but a major change in conditions could turn in their favor."
Jordan: "Well, the Classic as a whole is a challenge. I know I'll have to dig deep to block everything out and focus on the fishing. And since I've never fished a tournament on Hartwell, and it's a pretty big lake, I'll have to focus even more."
Question 4: Do you foresee yourself using more Quantum spinning reels or baitcasting reels in this event?
Matt: "Probably spinning tackle just because I have the utmost confidence in its ability to get bites. I'm guessing I'll lean heavily on a size 30 Quantum Smoke S3 spinning reel at Hartwell."
Jordan: "It really depends on the water color. Hartwell is generally pretty clear, which leads to a lot of spinning tackle, but with all the recent rains it could be off colored, meaning I'll use bait casting more - so probably a mix of both spinning and bait casting."
Question 5: Jump ahead 30 years from now in your mind and tell us how you hope fishing fans will think of the Lee Brothers in the year 2048.
Matt: "I hope we're both thought of as anglers who are respected and talented, and made a positive impact on fishing both on and off the water. Sure, I'd love to see us both have dominating careers in the years ahead, but there are a lot more important things in life that I want to accompany that - like being likeable and well-respected."
Jordan: "I hope we're thought of as brothers that had fun, and got the younger generation excited about fishing. I know fishing kept me out of trouble when I was younger, and to get high school anglers involved in our sport is what it's all about for me. I get the most joy from young anglers telling me that my brother and I are the reason they got into bass fishing. That's so rewarding!"