Clark Reehm, the number-crunching pro
Clark Reehm, pro angler, is also a pretty good mathematician with a memory for numbers.
Reehm can reel off strings of figures, instantly recounting who has what in tournament weights and points, and how far ahead or behind he is. He is especially good at this during decisive tournaments where he has a lot on the line, like the just-concluded Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open season-ender on Lake Texoma.
Reehm, who recently relocated to Lufkin, Texas, was fishing for one of two 2011 Bassmaster Classic entries awarded through the Central Opens. Going into the Oct. 21-23 Texoma event, he was third in points, just one spot away from the Classic seat he had failed to win as a Bassmaster Elite Series pro.
As the fishing world knows, Reehm landed the second seat. A fellow Texas pro, Keith Combs, won the points race and took the first qualification.
Truth be told, much of Reehm's math is fed to him by his brother, who often works up spreadsheets that show how Reehm stands at any given moment during a decisive weigh-in. They text and talk as each angler brings his catch to the scales and a new calculation changes the points.
Even without his brother's help, days after Texoma, Reehm still knew the numbers.
"Going into that final day, I knew that I needed to finish fifth to finish second and win by three points," Reehm said. "If I would have finished sixth, I would have lost by one point."
That means: He needed to finish fifth in the Texoma event to end up second in Central points, thus beating out fellow Texan and points leader Craig Schuff by three points for the Classic entry.
Reehm said he was confident, yet not secure on the final day, even after Schuff failed to make the Day 2 cut. Schuff was through at 48th place, putting him in real danger of losing his points lead to Combs and falling below a few other hard-chargers just like Reehm.
"I said to myself, if I can get a limit, then I've got a shot at doing this," Reehm said. "If I don't get a limit, if I can get enough quality to get about 10 pounds, I think I can do it.
"At the end of the day, I had a limit that went exactly 10 pounds."
And 10 pounds was certainly a lofty goal. Texoma was a brutal tournament, and many pros — not just Schuff — were stumped. But while Reehm walked through a door held open by Schuff, Reehm certainly knew how to help himself.
First, he was able stack two decent catches: 7-14 on Day 1; 6-13 on Day 2. Last week at Texoma, these were very decent bags of bass. Then, when the chips were on the table he raised his game, producing a 10-pound limit of five fish on Day 3.
Reehm said he acted on a tip from a fellow angler (that's legal) by using a crankbait about 1½ inches long, an H20 Xpress square-billed bait by Academy.
"The deal was, they had a 100-percent shad kill there in the spring, it got so cold. They had to restock it with threadfin shad, and all the threadfin shad now are really small — an inch to 2 inches long — and the gizzard shad were 6 inches to a foot long. You had to target one size or another."
Reehm said there's one drawback to doing the math for play-by-play standings: You know you've won before it's announced.
"It takes that moment away a little bit, but I'd rather know," Reehm said. "It's how you know what you need to do to win."
Just 7 more to go
The 2011 Classic's final seven qualifiers will be decided over the next two weeks.
Six of the seven will come out of the Oct. 27-29 BASS Federation Nation Championship presented by Yamaha and Skeeter Boats. The Classic qualifiers will be the top anglers in each of six divisions. Daily coverage of the Red River Federation event out of Shreveport-Bossier City, La., will be at www.Bassmaster.com.
On Nov. 6, the final name will be added to the Classic roster. That qualifier will be the winner of the 2010 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series Championship operated by American Bass Anglers. The tournament is set for Nov. 3-6 on Lake Guntersville in Alabama.
Junior anglers to hit Cross Lake straight on
Sharp-eyed residents of Louisiana's Cross Lake will notice an unusually high number of youth anglers on the water this Thursday and Friday, Oct. 28 and 29.
By squinting — or, easier, by simply asking — an observer could deduce that the kids are competitors in the 2010 Junior Bassmaster World Championship out of Shreveport-Bossier City, La., a 12-person competition of six anglers within two age groups (11-14; 15-18). It will run concurrently with the Oct. 27-29 BASS Federation Nation Championship.
The kids will be on Cross Lake Thursday for a practice session. They will return Friday morning for the one-day competition. At stake are scholarship awards and braggin' rights. But each angler will gain experience fishing against others in their age groups who possess the same above-average skill levels.
That's what 17-year-old Matt Nobile of Paulina, La., is hoping to get out of his first Junior World experience. Like all 12 qualifiers, Nobile had to win his state tournament, then win the divisional within his 15-18 age group, before he earned the right to advance to this week's Junior World.
He's the sole home-state entrant. That might prove to be a valuable advantage simply because he lives close enough (about six hours by vehicle) to have made an earlier scouting trip possible. He said he got in more than two days of pre-practice before the off-limits period kicked in.
"It's a tough lake," was the first thing he said about Cross. He's already learned to heed a caution not to divulge secrets.
"We didn't cream the fish," he added. "But we caught enough to make me feel kind of comfortable going into it. (But) nobody in this tournament is a rookie. Everybody's just as good as the next person."
Nobile could serve as a prime example of a next-generation bass pro. He recently met and talked with Bassmaster Elite Series pro Cliff Crochet, a fellow Louisiana angler who gave him an honest review of life as a top-level pro.
"It's hard, but possible, and not just a dream. That's what Cliff told me. I think just about everybody in the Junior Bassmaster program would one day like to be on the Elite Series and fish for a living. But I'll take it a step at a time. I'm going to college, and I'd like to fish the college series. Then maybe the Bassmaster Opens."
His timing for the college-level competition may be spot-on. BASS announced this week that it has created a dedicated avenue for the 2011 College Bass Champion into the 2012 Bassmaster Classic (new details are at www.collegebass.com).
Nobile said he has the full support of his family, and especially of his father, Scott. Nobile also has made friends and been inspired by other Louisiana anglers besides Crochet, including Jamie Laiche of Gonzales, who as a Federation Nation Championship angler this year will be in Shreveport-Bossier City with Nobile all week.
The Junior anglers will weigh their catches Oct. 29 on the BASS Federation Nation Championship weigh-in stage set up at Bossier City's Red River South Marina. The Junior weigh-in will begin at 3:30 p.m. CT., just before the final-day Federation Nation weigh-in. Coverage will be online at www.Bassmaster.com. All events are free and open to the public.
Here's the full 2010 Junior World field, by age group and including the division through which each angler qualified.
Chris Catucci, Warwick, R.I. (Eastern Division)
Why Elite pro Matt Greenblatt turned co-angler
A Bassmaster Elite Series rookie in the 2010 season, Matt Greenblatt of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., competed last week in the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open event on Lake Texoma. As a co-angler.
Greenblatt, who qualified for the Elite Series through the 2009 Bassmaster Northern Opens, said he was drawn to fish Texoma just so he could log his first Texas lake experience.
He said he was in the Lone Star State with a few free days and no boat, so he elected to step in on the non-boater side. He was boatless because his rig's transom was being repaired and the hull was being rewrapped for the 2011 Elite season with graphics of title sponsor Carrot Stix as well as with River2Sea and Gary Yamamoto Baits logos.
He finished 29th in the now-notoriously difficult Texoma tournament, making just enough to make back his co-angler entry fee, a deal that suited him just fine, thank you.
"At one point I put my rod down and watched," he said. "I was there to learn."