Bass fishing needs Skeet Reese

Seigo Saito
Skeet Reese is one of the superstars of bass fishing.

I want to run something by you that has already hit your radar the past week, but another dose of it won’t hurt anything.

The title of this story should be “Bass Fishing Needs Skeet Reese.”

Not that bass fishing doesn’t have him, it just makes a good title.

Some 10 or 12 years ago, after ESPN had purchased B.A.S.S., as part of the television crew I went to the Columbia River in the State of Washington.

We were covering a B.A.S.S. western open event and I only remember a couple of things about the three days I was there. Number one was that the wind howled the whole time, and although I didn’t know it at the time, the second was more important. At the first morning’s take-off a young man from California cornered me, wanting to welcome me to the west. It was still dark and I could hardly recognize who I was talking to. It was Skeet Reese, and although we had never met, I had heard of this young bass fisherman as he had already made some waves nationwide.

The conversation was short, but out of all those anglers he was the only one that bothered, and I just never forgot that.

From that point Skeet began to grow into an outstanding bass fisherman, and a pretty solid person I might add. Not that it really means a lot, but I’ll always be impressed with the fact that Skeet still calls California his home. Most anglers from the west who reach his level bail on their roots and move east, where their careers are centered.  I can’t really blame them, but Skeet says “I’m from California, and that’s that.”

Well, I’m proud to say that I watched as Skeet and Kim became Mr. and Mrs. and start their young family. I’m also proud to say that I saw Skeet at the very moment he went from being a darn good bass fisherman to becoming one of the few superstars that we have in our sport.

It was at Harris Chain in 2003 and the twelve finalists from the tournament moved to a smaller lake for the final day, and Skeet Reese was the winner of that event.

He lifted his trophy, then made, on camera, a phone call to Kim.

Big tears swelled up in his eyes, and I can remember thinking, “This kid is on a different level now.”

Well, since those days he has absolutely turned into a rock star and become possibly the second best bass fisherman out there.

Then came 2009 where he had a great season, but stubbed his toe at the very end putting a splash of cold water on the whole season.

Now it’s 2010, and Skeet has possibly the greatest year a professional bass fisherman has ever had, and I think even KVD will attest to that.

But once again he stumbles at the finish line, and it’s like his fabulous year never happened.

I want you to know that these next statements are just my own opinion. I have no facts behind them, but I don’t think Skeet got anywhere close to forgetting 2010 and the way he fished (very un-Skeet like) in 2011 was no surprise to me.

If you think that bass fishing is not mental, you’re crazy, and our hero proved it this past season. Here’s the good news though: 2010 and then 2011 will only make Skeet stronger. As sure as I was about him when I saw his eyes well-up a few years ago in Florida, that’s how sure I am about his comeback next year.

However, with all the things I’ve just talked about, and all the great strides Skeet has made over the past 12 years, again, in my opinion, the biggest thing for both himself and his sport happened last week on the third day of the Lake Wheeler event.

He finally had a good tournament, and on this day a decent weight puts him into his first cut of the season. Even though it’s the last event, maybe he’s turning things around.

They weigh his five fish limit, and yes, Skeet has finished in 12thplace. Good enough for a nice check, and a spot in the finals. But… oh my, don’t you hate that word? But when he trailers his boat to the boat yard, and starts examining things, he finds that there was a sixth fish in his live well that he hadn’t noticed when he went to the weigh-in. He has not broken a state law, but he has broken a tournament rule.

If he had noticed before he weighed in the officials would have made him cull his biggest fish, and he would have still had enough weight to make the cut.

However, at this point his 5 fish have already been released, so you don’t know what his biggest fish was.

Bottom line is, he will lose his whole day’s catch if he turns himself in.

Another bottom line is that no one on earth would ever, ever know that there was a sixth fish in Skeet Reese’s boat. And one more bottom line, he doesn’t even flinch; doesn’t give one second of thought to what he should do.

He picks up the phone, dials tournament director Trip Weldon, tells him his story and disqualifies himself for the day and the event. I’m sure Skeet is thinking that at last 2011 is over.

Well, here’s what I’m thinking. He could have won that event, and then next year’s Classic, and I wouldn’t have been as impressed as much as I am with how he handled this situation.

You have to remember, it was just Skeet all by himself. He can make a decision that is good for him, and no one will know it was the wrong decision…

He chose to make the right call and Skeet – that makes you a superstar forever.

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