Matthew Robertson

Matthew Robertson is shown after winning the Bassmaster Eastern Open Tournament.

When noon found him without a keeper, Matthew Robertson of Kuttawa made a bold decision that propelled him to victory at the Basspro.com Bassmaster Eastern Open on Cherokee Lake in Jefferson County, Tennessee, with a three-day total of 40 pounds, 12 ounces.

Holding his ground and waiting for his opportunities, Robertson took the Day 2 lead of the Basspro.com Bassmaster Eastern Open at Cherokee Lake in Jefferson Count, Tenn., with a two-day total of 28 pounds, 8 ounces.

After sharing a second-place Day 1 tie with Denny Fiedler of Wabasha, Minn., and trailing the first-round lead by 4 ounces, Robertson headed into Championship Saturday 3 ounces ahead of Fiedler. Turning in the event’s most consistent performance, Robertson added 14 pounds to the 14-8 he caught on Day 1.

Entering Championship Saturday with a mere 3-ounce lead over Fiedler, Robertson added a five-bass limit of 12-4 to his first two days’ limits of 14-8 and 14-0. He won by a margin of 1-10 and earned a top prize of $35,000.

Robertson also won the $500 Garmin Tournament Rewards prize and an automatic berth into the 2021 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic, which is scheduled for March on Lake Ray Roberts in Texas.

Robertson said, “I don’t want the title to this column to come across as a plagiarism of Dr. Martin Luther King’s civil rights speech, I have a dream. But I did have a dream. It was not a wish, or a fantasy, or a hope. It was a real dream during the night while I was sleeping. It happened about three weeks ago. It changed my life, from the inside. I’m a different man when I’m on the water competing.

“And so, I have to say that I had a dream is appropriate in all respects. The dream that came to me was that I won the 2020 Basspro.com Bassmaster Central Open at Neely Henry Lake. I saw it clear as could be in my dream, but it didn’t happen in the tournament. I finished second, a pound behind Cody Bird. That didn’t matter much to me, though. I wanted to win, and thought I had a chance. But that finish made me believe my dream was a sign of some sort. I don’t mean a sign like in the Bible. I mean a sign like a positive omen. It gave me a sense of peace and made me believe that my decisions on the water were going to be good ones.

“Being honest about things, we all have second thoughts no matter if we’re casual recreational anglers or professionals. Every time we come off the water we can look back and say that we wished we had done something different. That’s human nature. We all know about the old adage that says, ‘Hindsight is better than foresight by a {darn} sight.’ In the grand scheme of things, though, it should be different. When we make a change or make a decision about where to fish or with what we should feel good about doing it. It’s a matter of comfort. I’m in that zone right now. I’m at peace with what I’m doing, and why I’m doing it. And that all comes from my dream.

“That’s exactly what happened when I made the change on the last day to win the 2020 Basspro.com Bassmaster Eastern Open on Cherokee Lake.

“It was about noon, and I didn’t have a fish. I decided to make a change, a very different change. The details of it don’t matter. What matters is that I was at peace with it. There was no panic and no ‘what ifs.’

“It was just the idea that I would change, and that the change was going to work out. That dream brought me something else. My goal of fishing the Bassmaster Elite Series is within reach. It’s no guarantee by any means. I have to produce in the remaining tournaments. It’s possible, though, and I’m at peace with that.

“I’ll also be able to fish the 2021 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Ray Roberts.

“I know I’ll have to finish fishing the Eastern Opens to guarantee that spot. God willing I will do that.

“I can’t say that there’s a lesson in any of this for any other angler. The dream that came to me was personal. It was mine. I’m not a real outwardly religious person, but that dream came to me for a reason. I know that. The whole thing’s weird. I know. But it’s real. I know that, too.”

David A. Brown contributed this article to bassmaster.com.