What Happened to LeBrun? - Major League Fishing

What Happened to LeBrun?

The Louisiana pro stuck to his guns, but fell from the top. He says he’d do it all over again.
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Nick LeBrun Photo by Charles Waldorf. Angler: Nick LeBrun.
August 10, 2019 • Joe Balog • Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit

Nick LeBrun had been planning this day for a while. Almost a year, in fact. 

On day one of the 2019 FLW Cup, LeBrun locked down second place thanks to a 15-pound stringer caught on a stingy Lake Hamilton. But his preparation for the event – his practice, really – had started 12 months earlier at Lake Ouachita. 

Ouachita was the site of the 2018 Cup, where LeBrun finished a respectable fourth after keying in on an off-the-wall pattern of fishing a River2Sea Whopper Plopper around docks. 

“My worm pattern had dissolved, and I picked up a Plopper and caught a 6-pounder the second day,” he recalls. 

That one fish keyed LeBrun into the possibilities to come. After qualifying for the 2019 Cup at Lake Hamilton, which is separated from Ouachita by a dam, Lebrun knew the Whopper Plopper could be a game-changer. 

“I really wanted to catch them on it in this tournament,” he says.

When practice started for the 2019 event, LeBrun had the Plopper on hand. Practice results were promising. 

Nick LeBrun

“I used it on Sunday and caught all my bites and had about 13 pounds,” LeBrun says. 

He then cut the hooks off his bait for the remainder of the practice period to dial in the specifics.

“I knew what was good. I just needed to figure out where to find more of it,” he adds.

By the final day of practice, LeBrun noticed the most productive areas were those being missed by his competition. Seawalls and docks were the starting points, but it was important to get the lure into the most remote places, including under cables, beneath walkways and in cobweb-filled corners far underneath the platforms. 

“That told me no one else had made that cast,” LeBrun says. 

Lebrun is a shallow-water fisherman by trade, and his biggest win – the 2018 T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League All American at Cross Lake – came by making short pitches to cover with a crankbait. In both the 2018 and 2019 Cups, LeBrun did the same with the Whopper Plopper. 

“I specialize in taking a treble-hooked bait and treating it like a jig,” he says. 

Precise casts were made thanks to a 7-foot, 2-inch Fitzgerald frog rod with Sunline braid

Again this year, the Plopper did the trick, resulting in a massive summertime tournament stringer Friday. 

Nick LeBrun

Naturally pumped, LeBrun set out to do the same on day two, but he managed just two small bass, finishing 24th. LeBrun isn’t sure why the Plopper bite faded. Bass would swirl on it but weren’t getting it, whereas on day one they were crushing it.

It’s easy to wonder what happened, and why LeBrun didn’t go to a backup plan. He did throw a jerkbait around docks for a little while, but mostly he stuck with the Plopper. Why?

“I just couldn’t put it down,” LeBrun reflects. “I knew it was a hero or a zero deal. But it was the only thing I found that I could win on.”

And to LeBrun, winning was all that mattered. 

“If I punted and did something to catch a 5- to 7-pound limit, I’d be in eighth place and 7 pounds off the lead, and then you can’t win anyway. I’m not satisfied in just making the cut.”

But isn’t being a pro bass fisherman all about “cashing a check” and avoiding attempts to force a win? Aren’t we taught that when it’s a competitor’s turn to prevail, things naturally fall into place? 

Evidently not for LeBrun. At least, not in the Cup. For more than a year, he’s waited for the chance to make his own luck, living and dying by the sword.

“Coming in to this, I wanted to fish to win,” he says. “I did that. I’d do it all over again and wouldn’t change a thing.”

Nick LeBrun