Major League Fishing pro Jordan Lee

Before Sunday’s Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour Stage One Championship, before the two straight Bassmaster Classic titles, and before the more than $1.6 million in winnings, MLF pro Jordan Lee was a rookie on Lake Toho fishing his first-ever B.A.S.S. tournament. Making his debut at 23-years-old, Lee struggled in his first tournament, finishing in 105th place out of 194 anglers in the B.A.S.S. Southern Open.

Ask Lee what he remembers most about that tournament and it’s not the fish he landed, but instead, his future wife.

Jordan Lee and his wife Kristen celebrate after Lee’s win at the MLF Bass Pro Tour Stage One in Kissimmee, Fla. Photo by Garrick Dixon

“I saw my wife Kristen for the first time there because she was working for Power-Pole,” Lee reminisced. “She was there working the event at registration. We started talking at the event and never stopped from there.”

At least something positive came from it, right? A middle-of-the-pack finish sent Lee home with no money and a lot of unanswered questions about Kissimmee.

“I finished horrible in the tournament,” Lee recalled. “I remember having an amazing day of practice and I remember really struggling once the tournament got started. I didn’t really know what was going on and I was unable to adjust. I had a really tough tournament because of it.”

Fast forward to a little over five years later and Jordan Lee is on top of the professional fishing world after claiming the first-ever MLF Bass Pro Tour Stage One title on the same body of water where he began his career. Lee has come a long way in a short time, but it doesn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone who knows him.

“It’s surprising for anyone to win that much that quick,” MLF pro Jesse Wiggins said. “If anyone was going to do it, it would be Jordan Lee.”

Wiggins finished 15th in that B.A.S.S. Southern Open back in 2014. Lee’s ability to learn from his past is what Wiggins believes makes him so great today.

“He doesn’t make the same mistake twice,” Wiggins complimented. “That’s a quality of a really, really good fisherman. He learns from everything he does.”

Another angler who was in that B.A.S.S. field in 2014, MLF pro Justin Lucas. He says Lee’s improvement on Lake Toho and Lake Kissimmee comes from two distinct factors.

“Number one, it can happen to anybody in Florida,” Lucas explained. “Number two, Jordan is just that good.”

His fellow anglers are not shocked by Lee’s climb to the top of the bass-fishing world. But Lee continues to stay humble. He says that if you would’ve told him after that 105th-place finish in 2014 that he’d be where he is today, he wouldn’t have believed you.

“I would have shaken my head and said, ‘No way man,’” Lee laughed. “After that tournament and being so confused on the Florida lakes, I didn’t really think I could win down there.”

With an entire career still in front of him, Lee still enjoys looking back and seeing how much he’s improved in a short amount of time.

“I feel like I’ve learned a lot over the course of the last few years” Lee reflected. “My decision-making has improved a lot. That’s led me to where I am so far. In the big tournaments I’ve won, that’s what’s really helped me as an angler is making the right decisions at the right time.”

Decision making has absolutely helped mold Lee into the angler he is today. However, Lucas believes that the biggest difference between the wide-eyed 23-year-old rookie and the pro that topped Toho last week is time.

“He’s improved his whole game in those 5 years,” Lucas said. “The only thing he was lacking was experience, and the more experience he gains the better he’s going to get. He just has that ‘it’ factor.”

Lee will look to continue to stay hot as the MLF Bass Pro Tour heads to Lake Conroe, Texas for the MLF Bass Pro Tour Huk Stage Two Presented by Favorite Fishing. The event begins Tuesday, Feb. 12 and runs through Sunday, Feb. 17.