In the late 1990s, Randy Reehm transferred to Ft. Belvoir in Virginia and joined my bass club. Randy and his wife Jean are humble, solid, salt-of-the-earth folks. She is a schoolteacher, and after 27 years in the Army, he retired as a Lt. Colonel a few years ago, at which point they moved back to the Lake Dardanelle, Ark., area.
As I got to know the Reehms, I also met their son Clark on his visits from college. At that point, he was pretty much a snot-nosed teenager who was determined to set the world on fire as a pro angler. A decade and a half or so later, he may not be a Hall of Famer yet, but he’s lived up to his dream of pursuing a career casting for cash at the highest possible level. As Dizzy Dean said, “It ain’t bragging if you done it.”
Clark’s would-be-braggadocio actually predated our introduction. Around the same time that I met Randy, I also met one of Clark’s high school substitute teachers, Miss Carla. She’d lived and taught in the Leesville, La., area and had crossed paths with the Reehms when Randy was stationed at Ft. Polk. One day she asked each member of her class to describe what they wanted to do when they finished school.
“I’m going to be a pro bass fisherman,” Clark replied with not an ounce of doubt in his pronouncement.
“That’s not a real job,” Miss Carla replied, a bit befuddled by the fact that this young kid was trying to put one over on her.
A few years later, Miss Carla married four-time B.A.S.S. winner David Wharton. She thereby learned that professional angling is indeed a real job. Chalk up one for Clark.
After Randy left us for Arkansas, Clark and I became reacquainted in 2003 at a B.A.S.S. Top 150 tournament at Toledo Bend. A few years later, my writing career started to take off at just about the same time he decided to make a serious run at the Elite Series. We started emailing and talking on a regular basis, to the point where if a day goes by and I don’t see his phone number on my caller ID it gets me a little worried. I’ve included him in quite a few articles for various magazines and websites. I’ve also reviewed his sponsorship proposals. Along with another friend, I introduced him to his rod sponsor, renowned western pro Gary Dobyns. Nevertheless, truth be told, I’ve probably gotten a lot more from him than he’ll ever get from me. He is an incredible source of information. If you need the number of anyone in the Texas fishing world – or anywhere in the country, for that matter – he has it on his trusty IPhone. Is there a new product on the market? He’s tried it, has an opinion about it and knows where to get it. Do you want the real story behind any incident that allegedly happened at any tournament in the country? He knows the back-story, the real story and the major players.
Despite my gratitude for all of the help he has given me, he also frustrates me on a daily basis. I’m certain that Randy and Jean feel that way, too, and because I’m somewhere between their age and Clark’s age I can relate to both sides of the dynamic. While Clark’s promise to become a bass pro has been fully realized, he still lets his mouth get ahead of him sometimes and doesn’t always consider the consequences of what he says. I’m sure there have been occasions when the B.A.S.S. tournament staff has been less than thrilled by him, too.