BASS Elite Series rookie Clark Reehm has prepared for a career as a professional bass fisherman since he was 12 years old, but despite nearly two decades of prep work, some things still caught him by surprise during his first season in the big leagues.
"This year, I've had a lot of growing pains," he says. "The learning curve is very steep." Whether you intend to move up from club tournaments to the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series, from the Weekend Series to the Opens, or the Opens to the Elites, Reehm can offer lessons that will make your upward climb easier. "I take things away from every event," he says.
"The veterans want you to learn the hard way — but it's a whole lot more expensive to learn these days than when they came up. You learn more from a butt-whupping than from a win. When you win, you really didn't learn anything; but when you don't do well, you were out there and you can learn what others did to catch them.
Then you'll know what you did wrong." He disputes the oft-repeated mantra uttered by many up-and-comers that, "I don't fish against the anglers, I fish against the fish." "That's malarkey," Reehm declares. "At this level, you're expected to have a limit every day. You're expected to catch them every time. You've got to go out and beat these guys." That applies whether you're competing against the "alpha dogs" who Reehm believes populate the Elite Series field or the top sticks on your local lakes.
No matter where you fish, never underestimate your competition. "At this level, a cold front or a mechanical failure is not an excuse. These guys will catch them no matter what." While that may not be true top to bottom on lesser circuits, the basic principle applies. No matter what the conditions, someone is going to have a good bag of fish. In order to get that good bag of fish, he said it's ridiculous to "try to reinvent the wheel."
If you know that there's a primary pattern out there, it certainly doesn't hurt to explore additional options in case conditions change, but don't deviate from the prevailing pattern completely. "You might catch them one day, but for the most part you're going to get your rear handed to you," he says.
He has also put a lot of energy into figuring out what sort of weights it'll take to make the cuts to 50 and 12. Weights that might have been good at a prior, lower level often won't cut it when you jump up a step. For example, at Texas' Falcon Lake last spring, he caught a few random big fish and thought he was around the quality and quantity for a top finish, but he had grossly underestimated the quality of his finds as well as what it would take to win. And as the season progresses, Reehm points out, an angler must not become discouraged, no matter what.
Even if you're falling so far behind the goals you set at the beginning, you can still set new goals. "My initial goal was to be the Rookie of the Year and to get a check in every event. I knew most of the anglers from fishing the Opens. I underestimated some of them.
I've had to modify my goals as the year goes along."
(Provided by Z3 Media)