The Journey of Nick LeBrun from small town kid to FLW Tour Pro
February 2020, Volume 110
When you think professional athlete, you immediately get an image in mind. For some their image of a professional is about the flash and aura of success and excess so many worldly “professionals” exude; the fancy cars, arrogant talk, and life of the stars. For others, their image may be of a dedicated, head down on the grind stone, visionary, perfectionist, and execution specialist. Regardless of your image, you pretty well know anyone that has reached the point of being paid and making a living for pursuing a passion in sports has devoted an extensive amount of time, energy, and effort.
On a regular Tuesday evening I was accepted into the shop for an hour or two with just such a professional, FLW Pro Circuit Angler Nick LeBrun. After pulling up and grabbing my notebook and camera, I was met in the driveway with a friendly smile, an extended hand, and a little bit of a country twang, “are you Jeff?”. While I had no preconception of what to expect, the welcoming greeting from the guy I have seen on TV, YouTube, and all over social media made me feel at ease and right at home actually.
From his small town roots, to his current fishing success, Nick LeBrun strikes you as the kind of guy that just takes it all in stride. As humble a guy as a bass fisherman can possibly be, Nick is a down to earth guy from Vivian Louisiana that has a passion for God, Family, and chasing bass! Nick grew up on Caddo Lake, but not like you may expect. Being from Vivian, Caddo Lake was obviously a home lake, but a home he didn’t find until he was 15. “My dad would take me fishing, no more than the average kid” but at his father’s company fishing tournament, hosted by KCS, Nick and his father put up a winning bag with four fish weighing in around nine pounds. Being the humble guy, Nick says there was only maybe four other boats in the tournament, but that win sealed the deal; “that was very memorable and I was hooked.” From that point on Nick fished Caddo Lake 2-3 days a week for the next decade or so. Over time he partnered with local angler Randy Deaver and the pair enjoyed great local success. With wins piling up, some mentors suggested he up his competition and hit what was then called the “ABA Weekend Series” on Toledo Bend. How did his first season, 2011, turn out? Angler of the year! Looking back, Nick says this is the moment he knew he wanted to fish professionally. Nick continued to fish the regional levels, or as he called it “hanging out with” the guys fishing Toledo, Sam Rayburn, etc. By 2015, Nick and partner Randy had been fishing the FLW Everstart events, and placed third in the 2015 Bassmaster team championship at Guntersville. This led to an individual fish-off with an opportunity to win a slot into the classic.
Nick missed his first chance at the classic by a mere couple of pounds, but pressed on. Even with continued success at this level, Nick felt it was time to “see where you measure up in the world,” as he often tells younger anglers pursuing fishing. So around 2015 he entered a tour invitational with a steep $4,500 entry fee, and walked away with a top 20 finish. After a few more near misses to qualify for the All-American, his opportunity came with a regional qualifier on
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Nick shows off one of his workhorses; a Fitzgerald Fishing combo rigged with a Producer Swimbait.
Some of the earlier awards that mark the career of Nick LeBrun hanging on the wall of the shop housing hisYamaha powered Skeeter.
the Red River. Nick fished for two pounds on day one, and moved from 110th to 10th on day two, and ultimately qualified with a tie-breaker sixth place finish. In the uncertain world of tie breakers Nick put into context just what he was feeling. “When I say I barely made it to the All-American, like I am filling out the paperwork for the All-American and the tournament director says ‘hey Nick, hang on man, we don’t know if you made it in yet’ – and that felt like my soul was being ripped out.” But after all of that work, it would seem like divine intervention was at play.
The year Nick qualified for the All-American the event was practically in Nick’s backyard just five miles away, and was hosted on Cross Lake. With an All-American win, and a second place finish by former partner Randy Deaver, you would think all had been fulfilled with a $100k check and trophy. But for a guy with the passion Nick has, he says this “was actually a low point in my life.” What was obviously an early high point of his fishing career, and what should have made him feel whole with the recognition of winning an All-American, the trophy and cash to prove it, but he “realized the only thing that would ever fulfill me permanently is Jesus.” Shortly thereafter, in July 2018, Nick surrendered his life to Christ, and says “you can look at my career since then, and man he’s had his hand on it for sure.”
With an All-American win Nick was qualified to fish the Forrest Wood Cup and to fish on the FLW Tour the following year. So with his winnings from the All-American, Nick and wife Jolene decided it was time to make the leap and fish the tour. After wanting to fish professionally since 2011, Nick recalls this being the turning point where he finally looked at his career and realized he could make a run as a professional. Riding the momentum Nick fished 2019 as a rookie on the FLW Tour. He credits his experience fishing regionally on Toledo and Rayburn as an early upbringing that prepared him well for the competition on the Tour, both on the water, and in his head. With Nick, bass fishing is just as mental as any thing else.
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More of the ever filling wall of awards for Nick, including some FLW trophies chronicling his rookie season on the professional tour.
Going back to last year’s Toho/Kissimmee event, after a rookie debut finishing second on Rayburn, Nick learned just how mental a game it is. Thinking he was on a pattern no one else was, and enjoying space on the water, he learned as good as the competition is, if you are on a pattern no one else is, you are likely on the wrong pattern. And while this finish may have been a tough one, the rest of the 2019 season was a fulfillment of and realization of Nick’s dream to fish professionally.
The mental grind of fishing professionally with the big travel demands, time away from family, rigorous schedules for practicing and fishing events, Tour events, and demands to give back to his sponsors and fans alike present a grueling challenge. The devoted husband and father of twin boys, and soon to be new daughter, Nick’s dreams have evolved. Recalling “the first time my first twin son talked it was over the phone” twelve hours away. It’s those times that take the toll. While we would all love to fish professionally, these are the sacrifices these athletes make. “There is going to be times when you travel 10-12 hours away and you miss your family so bad and you finish 120th and it’s a long ride home; but you have to remember the goals that you have and the reason you are out there and how blessed you are and ultimately who is in control and that always gets you realigned.” Even with that, “It’s still my favorite job I have ever had” Nick jokes. The second part of his dream is to be able to fish professionally while also being able to support his family being with him full time, even during the season. With his success and even keeled pursuit of his dreams he has worked hard in the off season to prepare to win more tournaments, and obtain and keep his growing list of sponsors.
Nick continued his partnership with his title sponsor, Covington Lumber & Building Materials, as well as fishing his Yamaha powered Skeeter. Again this year, Nick will be fishing with Elite Tungsten and V&M Baits, Fitzgerald Fishing, and Hayabusa Hooks. To add to the growing list, Nick has relationships with Bass Pro Shops, Cypress Baptist Church, Pumps Plus, Advantage Reliability, Bill Lewis – Rat-L-Trap, Producer Swimbaits, Sunline, AFTCO, Lowrance, Power-Pole, G2 Gemini, and his newest sponsor Christ Fit Gym. With the season quickly approaching, Nick says he looks forward to the season and has shifted into the mental preparation. “Fishing is 80% mental” on the Tour everybody is more or less on the same skill level, but the big separator is visualization and decision making. “A lot of it is staying positive and not listening to people that suck the life out of you.” This includes all the changes on the Tour. When asked about how he feels about the flux of the industry with respect to the Tour he says he is just staying positive and “made it a point this year not to get into the who’s staying or who’s going” or any of the negativity that may arise from the changes.
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Ever a humble guy, it took some convincing to get Nick to pose and show off some of the hardware he's earned over his young but mature career.
Passionate about even the smallest of details Nick took a few minutes to explain the ins-and-outs of hook selection for maximizing the bite on swimbaits.
Nick passed along to us a standout setup combining a Producer Swimbait with a Hayabusa Hooks weighted swimbait hook that I know will get some good use this year! What a setup!
Not simply in title but in embodiment, Nick is a true professional. A humble guy, despite the walls full of trophies, he stays true to himself with a strong faith in God and love of family guiding him. Heading into his second season on tour, we expect you will want to make sure to keep up with this Louisiana boy. Make sure you follow Nick on Facebook and Instagram at Nick LeBrun Bass Fishing. For professional inquiries, you can find his website at www.lebrunoutdoors.com . You may also want to check out his secret weapon, Exact Cast Bass Fishing in the App Store.
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