Matt Lee Skunked Before Launch

December 20, 2015 4:36:21 PM EST

Bass anglers often refer to not catching anything as “getting skunked.” Unfortunately, Alabama rookie pro Matt Lee had already crossed paths with one of the smelly black and white mammals before ever making a cast on Day One of the Evan Williams Bassmaster Elite Series tournament in Waddington, NY.

“Jordan and I are staying about 30 minutes from launch, and I saw a small black creature run out in front of my Tundra on our way here this morning,” recounted Lee. “Sure enough, when I got to the ramp, people started telling me I had blood on the driver’s side of my boat, and even the windshield of my console – and man, you can still smell it,” said Lee, as he sat trying to tie on one last drop shot prior to takeoff.

“I mean c’mon, man, our dad is a veterinarian, and I’m out here running over skunks,” he joked. “Of course, if Jordan had been the one to hit it, it’d be no big deal, because his boat smells bad most of the time anyway,” added Lee in a tone of humorous brotherly love.

However, the difficulty of the fishing has been no laughing matter for the Lee brothers this week. “I’m guessing you’ll need to average 18 pounds a day to make the Top 12 cut on Sunday, but my practice has been a “D” if I had to give it a letter grade,” said the Auburn University grad who holds a degree in Engineering.

The front deck of Matt’s boat contained none of the more traditional baitcasting equipment familiar to his southerly bass fishing roots, and instead four Quantum Smoke spinning reels. “I rig four nearly identical just because the current is so strong here that it’s always drifting your weight into the rocks on the bottom that these fish relate to. You get snagged a lot, and break off a ton of drop shot weights,” explained Lee.

And as for the windshield on his console – well, it still smelled like a skunk just prior to his boat number being called for takeoff, promising a uniquely odorous ride down the St. Lawrence to begin Day One of competition.

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TJ Gamble