By Clark Reehm
Pickwick set a professional bass fishing record that can be tied but not broken – every angler caught a limit every day. All 93 each of the first two days, all 47 who made the cut on day three and of course the final 12, even though their Sunday was cut short by approaching weather.
As long as I’m on the topic of Trip’s decision to shorten Day Four, there’s no doubt in my mind that it was the right call. People say that Skeet got screwed or someone else got screwed, but the fact is that no one was going to catch Kevin Short, who crushed the biggest bag of the tournament that morning. His smallest fish was 3 pounds and if he’d had more time out there he might’ve culled that one out.
In a tournament where everyone’s catching tons of fish, it’s critical to have a good balance beam and to understand what it’ll take to do well. Each fish that weighs 2 ½ instead of 2 ¼ is critical and each one that is 2 ¾ is even more valuable. Nickel and diming, every ounce counts. In order to make the most of what you have, you have to be honest with yourself. Half of the guys who say they’re “just catching twos” are full of crap. If I had a dollar for every time I heard that on the Red River I wouldn’t be in debt. Those guys are catching 12 inchers and saying they weigh two pounds. They really don’t have a clue what they have.
With that said, I vowed not to put a fish in the boat unless it was over 2 pounds. I caught a ridiculous number of 1 ½ to 1 ¾ pounders and they never saw the inside of my livewell. Even though the fishing was good, it wasn’t struggle-free. There was one angler in particular who made things rough for me. I won’t call him out by name, but among many Elite Series pros his name has become a verb – as in, “you just got [blank]ed.” Let me tell you, it’s rarely good to have your name be a verb. On Day One, he never came into my area. I caught 6 or 7 limits with a jerkbait and 4 or 5 with a jig. On Day Two, he came right in and sat down on the juice. I know it’s speculation – maybe he’d been there during practice or in a BFL six years ago, or something like that, but I really feel like if he’d respected me I would have made a check. It’s a gray area and we had similar weights the first day, so I couldn’t really say anything, but he has to know he did something wrong. So, to the Angler Formerly Known as _____, and you know who you are, remember that karma’s a bitch.
Now I’ve had two incidents in the past three tournaments as a result of “sharing” water with someone. At the Amistad Open, I had the biggest bag on Day One and when I got there on Day Two this guy had put out a marker buoy right where I caught my biggest fish. I tried to be respectful, told him the situation. It wasn’t like I was saying “I’m an Elite Series pro and you should bow down to me,” but I was leading the tournament and he had no shot whatsoever. I don’t care what level you’re fishing at, everybody knows that the unwritten rule is that you don’t encroach that way. Let me restate that – everybody knows it except this guy, and we had words. Now, for the record, THE RULE IS NO LONGER UNWRITTEN.
The reason I brought this up is because after the tournament he called one of my sponsors to complain about my behavior on the water and they called me to get my side of the story. I told them I was truly sorry for their trouble, and apologized accordingly, but I didn’t do anything wrong and to apologize to the guy who encroached would send the wrong message. I’ve been bullied before on the water and off the water, and I’m sure someone will try it again in the future, but this is my job and I take it seriously. I also take my reputation seriously and this guy tried to take that away.
I ended up in 54th, seven spots out of the money, and that’s disappointing. I NEED the cash right now. Would anyone else feel satisfied if they were to go to work and not get paid? It wouldn’t have taken much more, another 3 pounder or two, and that’s what kills me. I was around that fish. I am happy that I didn’t bomb but I still dropped 9 places because some of the people behind me moved up. You need those top twelves to really make a move – Kevin Short moved up 40 places. People keep pointing out to me that I’m ahead of KVD in the standings, but all that counts is where we are at the end of the year and there are four events to go.