Clunn proves you can set your own timer on life’s big events

When I announced a couple of years ago that my wife was pregnant with twins and I was going to be a first-time father at age 40, it seemed like the world was suddenly filled with mathematicians.

I don’t know how many times I heard, “You’ll be 58 years old when those kids finally graduate high school.”

It worried me for a while, especially right after my daughters were born.

I wondered how much gas I’d have left in the tank for daddy-daughter dances and whether I’d be a grumpy old man by the time they started having giggly sleepovers with friends.

I worried I might not have enough energy to chase boys away during the girls’ teenage years and that I might have to hobble down the aisle beside them when they finally find one I can’t chase away.

Anytime I worry about that from now on, I’m going to remember March 20, 2016.

That was the day Rick Clunn proved we can set our own timers on life’s big events — and just when everyone says our time is up, we can turn back the dial as far as we please.

In case you missed it – and if you did, come on man, get with the program — Clunn pulled off one of the more stunning victories in professional fishing history at last week’s Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River presented by Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels.

After zooming from 31st place into the lead with 31 pounds, 7 ounces on Day 3, Clunn went out on Championship Sunday carrying the weight of the Baby Boomer generation on his shoulders. With the pressure on, he held off a charge from Greg Hackney with a 19-pound catch that pushed his winning four-day total to 81-15.

News of Clunn’s 31-plus bag rallied the over-60 crowd online Saturday night — and the stats that came out of his victory should make grown-ups of all ages feel better about getting older.

There’s hope for everyone if a man just a few months shy of his 70th birthday can beat a field of the best anglers in the world by 4 pounds. According to fishing historian and stat master Ken Duke, Clunn became the oldest angler to win a B.A.S.S. tournament by four years and the oldest to win a Bassmaster Elite Series event by seven years.

The fact that he did it with his son, River — a 12-year-old — standing next to him made it all the better.

Clunn was born in 1946 when World War II had just ended and Harry Truman was still president. He was 17 when John F. Kennedy was assassinated and 31 when Elvis Presley died.

From a pro fishing perspective, Clunn was almost five years old when Paul Elias was born and nearly ready for middle school by the time Shaw Grigsby came along.

Clunn won for the first time at the Bassmaster Classic on Lake Guntersville in 1976 and went on to claim 13 more victories between 1977 and 2002.

Given the length of time since his last win, a lot of people had probably written him off a decade ago.

But still, there he was last weekend, stopping the show again.


On Saturday, Clunn waited in his boat while the rest of the Elites filed past him, keeping his enormous catch in the livewell until his wife and son arrived from the airport in Jacksonville.

He wasn’t grandstanding or being persnickety.

He simply wanted River to understand that all of his dad’s great accomplishments aren’t behind him and that hard work can produce phenomenal things no matter how old you are. He wanted the young man to see it for himself instead of just hearing about it or reading it online.

That’s not old-man parenting.

That’s grown-man parenting — the kind we don’t see enough of these days.

I hope I can be that same kind of parent when all of the armchair math becomes a reality.