DEL RIO, Texas — Clark Reehm didn't look like a fisherman that had just missed out on $100,000 and his first career victory by a razor-thin margin.
Moments after Todd Faircloth emerged victorious in the Battle on the Border presented by Mahindra Tractors, Reehm sat at a steel picnic table behind the weigh-in stage and reflected on his nascent career.
The rookie from Russellville, Ark., wasn't second-guessing himself or lamenting the fact that he'd just finished second by a paltry 12 ounces. Quite the contrary, he showed a cheerful demeanor, laughing and joking with ESPN cameramen and reporters.
If he had acted bitter, you couldn't hold it against him. After all, a 2 1/4-pound bass died in his livewell on Day One. In addition to a four-ounce penalty, BASS rules prevented him from culling the fish. Even though he caught several larger bass, he couldn't trade them for the dead one.
"That fish actually cost me the tournament," Reehm said without a hint of bad attitude. "It happens."
Reehm waxed philosophical about his first time to fish on the final day of an Elite Series event.
"When you win, you don't learn anything," he said. "When you lose, that's when you learn."
Reehm relishes every chance to expand his understanding of the professional bass fishing game. The 28-year-old angler spent a few years fishing the BASS Open division before qualifying for the Elite Series last year. But this level is different, he said.
"I'm glad I fished the Opens as long as I did," he said. "You really don't know how much there is to learn until you quit your job and go fish. When you have to put food on the table and gas in your truck, that's when you learn.
"I've got some things I need to work on. Time management is one of my biggest problems. Patience is something else I need to work on."
He learned a lesson in patience on Sunday, leaving a spot that had been productive earlier in the tournament to look for fish in another area.
"I left today because I was impatient," he said. "I should've stayed there and rotted on that spot."
Amistad taught him something about deep water fishing, too. Reehm struggled last week at Falcon Lake, where the productive bite was a deep one. He pledged to himself that he wouldn't let that happen again.
"If you're a shallow water fisherman like me, when you think you're fishing deep, you're not deep enough," Reehm said.
Considering Reehm's success in deep water this week, it was a lesson well learned.
And if it's true that the first step in overcoming your weaknesses is recognizing them, then Reehm is well on the way to success.
He's certainly had his share of success as a rookie. Reehm finished eighth in the Bassmaster Classic in February, a finish he says was vital to his young career.
"That made my career so far," he said. "Eighth place got me $23,000. I'm still floating off what I made at the Classic. We had Elite Series payments due a couple of days later, and I don't know how I would've paid them if I hadn't won that money."
Reehm is financing his entry fees and expenses largely out of his own pocket, so Sunday's second-place finish and $30,000 was huge, too.
"Now I've got enough to make the rest of the year's payments," he said.
And despite barely missing a victory, he's savvy enough to realize the importance of the accomplishment.
"I'm disappointed I didn't win, but when you're a rookie out here, you look for defining moments to set you apart," he said. "When you come out here and have double-fisted bass every day, people take notice."