WETUMPKA, Ala. – Skeet Reese was grinning.
“I feel good right now; I guess there’s a little satisfaction knowing that I put Kevin out of this thing,” he said. “I don’t care what happens the rest of the week!”
Why is beating Kevin VanDam so important to Reese?
Going into the 2010 postseason, Skeet Reese had a wide margin over VanDam in the points race for the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title. VanDam put together two solid events - which he needed to do in order to have a shot at a win - while Reese faltered, falling one fish shy of the title on the final day of the final event, which happened to be on Jordan.
In 2009, the same scenario played out, but with somewhat less drama. Reese was in the running, but VanDam never opened the door for anyone to have a chance like Reese did for VanDam in 2010.
Fast-forward to 2011, and Reese edges out VanDam by 8 ounces, giving Reese reason to celebrate.
“I feel good right now, I’m a lot calmer and more relaxed than I thought I’d be,” he said.
One of the four anglers on the outside looking in is VanDam. He rues the fact that he won’t get to compete next week, but he held his head high.
“I didn’t make it because I just didn’t catch ‘em,” he said. “I fished good areas that have good fish on them, but it just didn’t happen.”
Overall VanDam was pleased with his performance, but winces when he thinks about two fish that he lost today, one in a brushpile and another as he fought it to the boat.
“I fished pretty clean and based on what I saw in practice I felt like I made good decisions, but one thing that seemed really strange to me was not getting some of the better bites,” he said. “There are quality fish on all of these places - you’d see the schools come up and blow up - but to not catch more 2-pounders than I caught is bad luck more than anything else, because I was dang sure around a lot of nice ones.”
Ever the competitor, VanDam said that he’s most upset about not being able to compete next week in the Evan Williams Bourbon All-Star Championship.
“I’m really disappointed that I won’t get to fish that river next week,” he says. “It hurts because I feel confident about fishing there and I’ve done pretty well in the past.”