The 2015 bass tournament season is one that Clent Davis of Montevallo, Ala., will never forget. He finished third in the AOY standings of the Bassmaster Southern Opens and qualified for the 2016 Bassmaster Elite Series.
Davis also qualified for the FLW Forrest Wood Cup and made the money in 12 of the 14 tournaments he competed in, including a third place finish at the Southern Open on the Alabama River.
At age 30, Davis’ pro career appears ready for blastoff. However, his feet are solidly on the ground. Davis, his wife Ashley and their 2-month-old daughter Kayt live only 10 minutes from where Davis grew up.
A pond near home introduced Davis to bass fishing. He credits Brad Killingsworth, a neighbor who was good friends with his parents, for expanding his bass horizons. Killingsworth took Davis to many other ponds in the area.
When Davis was 8 years old, his parents, Martha and Jimmy, bought him his first fishing rod. Since Killingsworth used baitcasting tackle, that first rod just had to be a baitcasting outfit.
“I picked it out at Walmart,” Davis said.
Killingsworth taught Davis how to tie knots and Texas rig a plastic worm.
“A worm was about all we ever fished ponds with,” Davis said. “It caught plenty of bass then and still does now.”
When Davis was 12 years old, his parents bought an aluminum boat powered by a 50 hp Yamaha. During summer vacation, his father would drop him off at Lay Lake in the morning, which was 20 minutes from home, and pick him up in the afternoon.
“I did that three to four days a week until I turned 16,” Davis said. “Then I would drive to the lake every day myself.”
Most of Davis’ teen outings were to Lay Lake, but he also fished Logan Martin Lake and the Coosa River. His most productive tactic at Lay Lake was flipping a jig into water willows or swimming a jig through this shallow, aquatic vegetation.
During Davis’ early teen years he did enter a few local tournaments out of the aluminum boat. His tournament fishing took flight in his 16th year. That’s when his father bought him a used Stratos bass boat powered by a 150 hp outboard.
“I fished a lot of team tournaments around Lay Lake and donated for a couple of years,” Davis said.
A few years later, Davis began to collect checks at tournaments. By the time he went to college at the University of Montevallo he had notched several wins. He studied kinesiology and history with the goal of becoming a teacher or a physical therapist.
While at the University of Montevallo, Davis ensured that he would continue competing in tournaments by starting a college bass fishing team with his friend Casey Crumpton.
For a few years after graduating, Davis worked at Advance Auto Parts in the delivery department. He also went for his masters in bass fishing by competing on the FLW Tour for four years as a co-angler, winning one of those events.
Davis also fished the Rayovac series as a boater and claimed finishes as high as second place. He used his Rayovac winnings to fish the FLW tour in 2012 in which he claimed the Rookie of the Year title.
In 2013 Davis suffered through a “mediocre” season on the FLW tour. He picked it up in 2014 with two Top 5 finishes prior to his breakout year in 2015.
Although Davis learned early how to catch bass in shallow water, his strong suit now is fishing offshore.
“Offshore fishing is my number one game,” Davis said. “I’ve fine-tuned that for the last six or seven years.”
Davis credits electronics guru and Kentucky Lake bass ace Ben Parker as one of the anglers who helped him master down viewing, side viewing and 2D sonar.
“Deep bass are easier to catch because they don’t get as much fishing pressure as shallow bass,” Davis said. “If you know how to run your depthfinders better than the other guys, you will find bass that you can have to yourself.”
Davis’ current sponsors include Garmin electronics, Mr. Twister, Nichols Lures, Yo-Zuri, Phenix Rods and Bass Bomb fish attractant.