Matty “I don’t always wear black” Lee was 15th in the Elite AOY points this year, WAAAAAAAAY up from 82nd in ’16 and 65th in ’15. Plus this year he had his first 2 Elite top 10s, part of 4 top 12 cuts made. WTHeck happened? Called him, what he said:
> “I wish it was something easy where I could say, That’s what made it happen. I just trusted my abilities. I was [almost] getting kicked out of the Elites [after ’16] but made a check in right about half the tournaments I fished so I knew I could catch ’em. I just needed to believe in myself, practice smart and fish smart.
> “All the guys know how to catch ’em. All of them are sound in what they do [skills-wise]. It all comes down to making good decisions in the little bit of time we’ve got.
> “I put myself around a lot of fish. I go where I think I can catch the most fish, where I have a chance to catch quality.
> “I really believe God put me on the earth to be a fisherman. The way I won the college deal, this maybe is what I’m supposed to be doing, and it’s what I wanted to be doing. I really gotta trust Him that I can make good-enough decisions to hang.
> “Everyone’s got the same amount of practice and a lot of the same equipment. You just have to fish your way and make good decisions.”
What does making good decisions mean for the Elites?
> “It’s a lot of different things…tough to describe. A lot of times, even in practice, it’s so easy to start out swimming a jig and 2 hours later you’re still doing it and you haven’t had a bite yet. You’re not thinking, just casting, just trying to run into them.
> “The guy who does well, he puts his boat in the water and immediately by something he sees or feels — his instincts — he’s changing it up. He really understands what’s going on.
> “The clock’s your enemy. You gotta decide now — this isn’t working out, am I doing the right thing? It’s a lot easier said than done. A lot of things go into it.
> “Justin Lucas — he’s a thinker like I am — said when he was doing well he didn’t leave a spot til he felt like he caught all that was there. I realized this year there’s usually a lot more fish [in a good spot/area]. Swindle told me when he won AOY, he fished slower than he ever had.
> “So I try to start in an area where I’ll get some bites, and realize if I swim my jig in a 400-yd stretch of grass and get 3 bites, I should turn around and go back — not leave — and I’ll probably get 2 more. There’s usually a lot more fish in an area than I realized.
> “A lot of little things go into the [decision-making] equation. It changes all the time, and I’ve just got to adjust to it better. It’s just instinct, and the more tourneys I fish, the better I get at it.”
Are he and Jordan helping each other?
> “I knew before anyone else did that Jordan wasn’t going to go out there and suck. If he gets on a pattern, it’s easier said than done to ignore it and do your own thing. It was tough for me to ignore….
> “I’m doing my own thing — not relying too much on what my brother’s doing. In the past that’s not worked out well for me.
> [Example:] “At Champlain, I knew fishing deep rocks in the Inland Sea was a big deal that time of year. Jordan didn’t get a lot of quality bites in practice doing it but I did. So I thought if I could get enough bites and run enough stuff, I could have a good tournament. [He finished 12th, Jordan finished 8th.]
> “A lot of times when both of us do well, people think we’re doing the same thing but we don’t know where each other’s at. Champlain [they were fishing] different.”
Time to win
> “I really feel like I can win. I need to win. To have 4 top 12s this year gave me confidence to do that.
> “There’s no sense in fishing scared if you’re going to fish. You fish to win. Don’t think, Am I going to catch them, Am going to requalify. Know that you can, an dgo put them in the meat locker.”
> “The odds of me winning the college championship aren’t very good, and the odds of Jordan winning it the next year — for it to happen to both of us, you can’t tell me that’s by accident. I really think there’s a bigger purpose.”