Clent Davis was relieved not to advance to Championship Sunday of the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk.
Heck, he didn’t even want to be fishing Day 2. Davis was in pain, and not just physical.
“I’m at the Bassmaster Classic, the second day of the competition, and I’m hurting so bad, I don’t want to be here,” he said. “I don’t even want to fish.”
At his aunt’s behest, Davis drove home to Montevallo, Ala., from Fort Worth, Texas, set up to have his ailing right shoulder assessed by Andrews Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center, which treats University of Alabama football players among others.
“I found out Friday my labrum is torn, and they said my bicep is detached. I found out Monday they’re going to have to go in and surgically anchor all that stuff back in,” said Davis, who will take a medical hardship for the remainder of the 2021 Elite Series season. “Then it’s six weeks in a sling and six months of rebab. I will start therapy the next day after surgery.”
Davis said the initial injury occurred at hunting camp late last year, but the pain subsided and he tried to tough out the season.
“I did it at my hunting camp in December trying to put a bag of corn into a deer feeder,” he said. “The corn fell off and I reached up and grabbed the 50-pound bag, and it kept going.”
Thinking he simply strained some muscles, Davis babied it and the pain subsided before the first event on the St. Johns River in February, where he finished a respectable 20th.
“It didn’t bother me in practice,” he said. “The third day of the tournament, it caught on fire.”
After fishing in pain and finishing 57th on the Tennessee River, Davis saw a doctor, who advised him to start therapy.
“Make sure you go to the right doctor,” Davis said. “He gave me some medicine and it kept hurting and kept hurting.”
And the finishes got worse for Davis. It hurt to cast with his right arm, switch the rod to his left hand and reel with his right. He suffered through subpar events at Pickwick (62nd), Sabine River (83rd) and Lake Fork (95th).
“The week of Neely Henry, I went and got a cortisone shot,” Davis said. “It helped for about five days.”
That produced his best finish of the season at 17th, but he fell back down with an 89th at Lake Guntersville. That dropped him to 76th in the Angler of the Year standings, some 50 places lower than he finished the past two seasons.
“I’m just riding around hurting so bad I can’t cast in practice,” Davis said. “One thing I’ve learned, if you’re going to find fish, you’ve got to fish. It doesn’t work well just riding looking for a spot to fish in the tournament.”
The pain got so bad on Lake Ray Roberts, he said he’d rather not be fishing the Classic at all. He finished 29th out of 54, but a telling moment was on the weigh-in stage when he held up a bass with his left hand, a rarity.
Looking back, Davis said he wished he’d taken a medical hardship before the season.
“I’m miserable. I’m ticked off,” he said. “I tried to get through it for my sponsors, but I’m over it, especially after hearing everything that’s wrong.
“Everything was going great. I know I’m hitting the prime of my career, that mid-30s and 40s that seems everyone is at their best. It’s a shame this happens now. It seems like I’ve wasted my whole year. I tried to stick it out, but I know better. I should have taken it when the season started, no ifs, ands or buts. I’m just too hardheaded.”
To add insult to injury, the news has brought some cringe worthy requests from fellow angler friends who will be finishing out the Elite season with July events on Lake Champlain and the St. Lawrence River, places Davis made the cut last year.
“Matt Herren called asking for all my flatworms,” Davis said. “Had one call asking for my hair jigs, one call asking for my spinning reels. My cousin asked if he could have one of my Lowrance fishfinders.
“It’s one after another of those guys asking. It’s like the buzzards swarming around me. It’s like I died, but I didn’t.”
Unless something unforeseen happens, Davis plans to be back next year raring to go. He has hopes to return to the upper echelons of the AOY point standings, which had him qualify for the past two Classics.
“I will be back next year,” he said. “I’m pretty sure by the time I get done with all this, I’ll be happy to go fishing.”
And hopefully pain-free.