Three anglers start year off hot

When is ninth better than second? When it doesn't involve falling six ounces short of a half a million dollars.

Skeet Reese, who finished second to Boyd Duckett in the Bassmaster Classic in February, never really had a good shot at winning the Battle on the Border on Lake Amistad in Del Rio, Texas.

 He weighed in four fish Sunday that went 19 pounds, 7 ounces and slid into ninth place.

 But he came off the stage looking satisfied.

"There are certain events that you leave, and you're upset because you haven't closed the deal," Reese said. "But there are other tournaments where you make the top 10 and you're pretty damn happy. I'm leaving here in the top 10 and I'm happy."

 Reese said he was never on a good bite, but he just kept grinding. He said it was different in the Classic because he was on the fish and felt like he could have won.

 "For what I found this week, I had a pretty good week," he said. "In the Classic, nobody had more solid bags than I did. I got beat by a big fish, and that's fishing."

 Every angler wants to start the year hot, and Reese has done that with his two top 10s. He said it adds to his momentum, which has been building for a long time.

 "I think the last three or four years I've been fishing pretty damn good," he said. "I keep getting there [near the top].

 "Hopefully I'll keep putting myself in those positions and I'll get another win. My time will come."

 There are two other anglers who have finished in the top 10 in both of the major BASS events this season: Kevin VanDam and Steve Kennedy.

 Both anglers said it's nice to build their momentum, but as with all winning athletes, they aren't satisfied with a nice start.

 "I try to win every time I fish," VanDam said. "It's getting hard because these guys are so good. You've just got to have the kind of finishes that put you in good positions."

 VanDam finished fifth in the Battle on the Border, and third in the Classic.

 He said he was happy with his performance in the Classic, but left the stage disappointed with his performance on Sunday.

 "I didn't have the day yesterday that I needed to have a shot," he said, referring to his 17-4 Day Three. "You just can't mess up any single day."

 Kennedy, who won the 2006 Rookie of the Year and finished second in the 2006 Angler of the Year standings, said his third-place finish on Sunday was nice first step toward his goal for the season.

"It's all about the angler of the year," he said. "After finishing second last year, it makes me want it even more."

And while the Classic doesn't count toward Angler of the Year points, all three anglers said it was important to do well in the first tournament of the year.

But Kennedy, just like VanDam and Reese, said he's not surprised anymore when he finishes high in a tournament.

"It's a great start, but I've been on this momentum for two or three years," he said. "I was really hoping gain some ground on VanDam or Ike [Mike Iaconelli], but they just won't budge."

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