Whenever the BASS Federation held its awards banquet at past CITGO Bassmaster Classics, Rick Clunn was one of the pros who showed a keen interest in the proceedings and took the time to congratulate the award winners. Clunn was a member of a Texas Bass club that helped launch his fishing career, and although his club never belonged to the Federation, Clunn has developed an admiration for the Federation and what it does for bass fishing.
In an interview with BASS Times, Clunn disclosed his feelings about the importance of the Federation and how bass clubs help anglers improve their skills.
BASS Times: What are your thoughts about the Federation and how important is it?
Clunn: I think it is critical to BASS. They are the unselfish entity of the whole organization. They do a lot of the hard lay work for the Junior Bassmaster World Championship, which will get bigger and bigger. I think the Federation has been responsible for a lot of that and will probably play an even bigger role in the future.
I think it is the most underrated part of the whole BASS organization. Part of the reason I stayed for the Federation awards was that I really do appreciate what those guys do. As a matter of fact, it educated me on what they do. The Federation is a great watchdog vehicle for the community, the lakes and the quality of water.
BASS Times: How much did you learn from fishing in a bass club?
Clunn: It was the whole start of my tournament career. I had fished with my father my whole life, but all of it was limited to small bodies of water. When my dad and I started fishing man-made impoundments, we didn't know how to locate fish, so, I learned all of that when I joined a bass club.
BASS Times: Did the concept of fishing with several other fishermen in the club help you?
Clunn: Exactly. It accelerates the learning process when you are exposed to a lot of different anglers and a lot of different skills. The competition also forces you to learn a lot faster. Our club was pretty good too about sharing information
I was very fortunate to have in the club an Oklahoma guy who was one of the first to have that little green Lowrance box. He is still to this day one of the finest electronics men I have ever seen. He taught me how to use electronics correctly. Another couple of boys in the club were incredibly good shallow water fishermen. So I got the best of both worlds.
BASS Times: Are you involved any with the Federation now?
Clunn: Unfortunately just on a small scale. Every one of those Federation awards nights I attended, I made it a point to congratulate the various winners. I was really touched by what some groups were doing, and I would ask them if there was any way I could help them.
BASS Times: There is a difference of opinion among the pros as to whether or not the five Federation qualifiers should fish in the Classic. What is your opinion?
Clunn: They should be able to fish it. The U.S. Open has amateurs playing in it and it is one of the prestige golf tournaments. I think it is an element that adds to the Classic. The benefits far outweigh the perceived negatives. The only negative I see is that it is taking the place of a full-time pro, and maybe that is a legitimate argument, but I still think the benefits far outweigh that.
Brian Kerchal's win was one of my all-time favorite Classic wins. These guys have the same dream that every pro has. Their circumstances don't necessarily allow them to do it, but at least that is another avenue they can pursue to reach the Classic.
Their route to get to the Classic is not easy. These guys are volunteers and have other jobs.
BASS Times: What do you see in the future for the Federation?
Clunn: One thing we need to have, like all other sports, is a way to attract and educate young anglers. I saw some good moves toward that at this year's Classic with the Junior Bassmaster World Championship and the CastingKids program, but still you have to have someone to implement that on a national level, and the only people who can do that are the Federation members.