ZAPATA, Texas — Keith Combs and Rick Clunn are separated by exactly 1 pound after three days on Falcon Lake. But Clunn would be leading if not for Clark Reehm.
No, Reehm didn't do anything to hamper Clunn. But he did make a big statement about sportsmanship in big-time bass tournament fishing, while finishing 50th Saturday in the Rigid Industries Falcon Slam.
Combs was dead in the water about 1:30 p.m. He had only four fish in the boat when he experienced mechanical problems. That's when Reehm gave a little help to his friend – perfectly legal help, according to B.A.S.S. rules.
Reehm picked up Combs and, according to both men, let Combs call the shots for the final hours of the day.
"He didn't have to do that, and I really appreciate it," said Combs, who has led all three days of the tournament. "Some of the time, he just let me fish. He wasn't really making the key casts. I owe him one."
Combs caught his fifth bass – about a 3-pounder – while fishing from Reehm's boat. That's the difference between a 1-pound lead for Combs, and a 2-pound lead for Clunn.
"I'd do the same for almost any of these guys," said Reehm.
If you know anything about the ins-and-outs at this level of competition, "almost" is the key word in Reehm's statement.
But not helping Combs never occurred to Reehm. Both anglers are in their 30s and trying to make a career of this sport.
"I'd already secured a (Top 50) check, so it really didn't bother me," Reehm laughed.
But the issue is more serious than that.
"You judge your career by wins," Reehm added. "I'm out here just trying to survive right now, whereas a lot of other guys are here basically trying to establish legacies by how many tournament wins they have.
"A guy like Keith needs a win to solidify his career. So do I. But, at that same time, those opportunities don't come along very often.
"The only way I can see this coming back to bite me possibly is not having enough points at the end of the year to make the Classic, if I'd caught one more today.
"But so be it."