Rick Clunn: A living legend

You don’t hear much about him, anymore, at least not as much as you should. That’s a shame. Rick Clunn is one of the living legends of our sport. And anyone who thought time had passed him by, or that he’s from another age, got their eyes opened this past weekend.

Several of us helped raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network Thursday and Friday by participating in a little get-together on Beaver Lake in Arkansas. All the usual anglers were there, and that included Rick. He’s always at those kinds of things, never hogging the spotlight but always helping out, doing his part for the sport and his fellowman. He’s done that for decades while building a fishing record that’s the envy of all of us.

Just about everyone knows he’s a four-time Bassmaster Classic champion. But that barely scratches the surface of what he’s accomplished. He’s also won 14 events, finished in the Top 10 at least 104 times and cashed a check on 256 final days. And let’s not forget his Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title back in 1988, or his $2 million in winnings.

Some of us — most of us, if the truth be told — wish we had a tiny percentage of that record. He owns the kind of career most of us dreamed about when we first started in this business, a dream that’s now a distant memory.

There was a raffle at our event. Anglers paid $10 for a ticket that went into a drawing. If you won, you got to fish the tournament with Rick Clunn. A lot of anglers would have been happy with that. After all, a day in the boat with him is no small thing. That’s a heck of a prize. But Rick thought they deserved more. He quietly launched his boat, loaded up his raffle winner and went out and won the tournament. It was simple, quiet and efficient.

What do you say when you look at a man like that? He’s at a point in his life when most people start slowing down. He could do that if he wanted. He’s earned the right to rest on his laurels and tell stories about great wins in the past. But that’s not him. He wants to fish and compete. I suspect we’ll see him headed towards the dock pushing a walker one day.

You have to admire that, maybe more than his record. He’s tough, competitive and focused. I hope I can say that about myself years from now. If I can, I’ll have had a good life and got my money’s worth even if my record doesn’t match his.

Another thing I want to mention about Rick is that he has, and continues to do, all of these things without a hint of scandal or misconduct. I’ve been around tournament fishing for decades. I’ve heard plenty of wacky stories about guys and what goes on. Not anyone tells anything negative about his conduct on the water.

Thanks, Rick.

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