Learning from the young guns


Courtesy Ava R-1 Schools

Rick Clunn skypes into the Bassmaster LIVE show to talk about college Classic qualifier and friend Cody Huff.

There’s a perception out there that I’m the ol’ cagey veteran who can teach these young Elite anglers a thing or two about tournament angling and bass fishing. That’s true. And I do.

But what most people don’t realize is I’m learning a great deal from them as well.

And man, do I love their attitudes.

Older guys complain about little stuff that they didn’t complain about before. Younger anglers are far more positive and haven’t let the negatives take them down. They still have a lot of hope and believe they are going to catch fish regardless of the circumstances.

They remind me of myself when I was at my best and full of positive energy. I’m now feeding off theirs.

The benefits aren’t just psychological. They’re educational as well.

Younger anglers embrace modern technology and understand it a lot better than the older generation. I’ve made a commitment to get a better grasp on these technologies as I’ve seen how they’ve benefited the younger anglers tremendously.

For most of the older crowd, our fishing knowledge is too small. We know how to catch bass when they are shallow near the bank or if they’re deep and on the bottom.

This new generation is learning how to catch them when they’re in between.

Sure, we’ve tried, but we never became very proficient at catching suspended fish.

These kids are figuring it out. They’re finding fish that no one ever fished before.

And they’re proficient.

I’m convinced we are seeing the end of the Rick Clunn and Kevin VanDam style of random cast anglers. That generation of anglers could convert random casting into high probability casts.

When I won one of my Classics, I caught 25 bass. My press observer said I made 2,000 casts that day.

Most were random.

The new generation isn’t making random casts. The technologically-savvy youngsters are throwing at fish. They are putting their lure right where the fish exists instead of having to work an entire structure to find the sweet spot. They will make 20 or so casts and move on, covering more water efficiently.

Today’s technology has fostered that. Digital mapping has given them a clearer picture of the lake structure. Electronics, with down looking, side scanning and Panoptix have given them the tools to be more precise with each cast.

I have some of those tools on my boat, but I haven’t taken time to fully learn them. That’s why I went out the other day with Cody Huff, the 2019 Carhartt College Classic Bracket champion who lives near me, and my son. I asked Cody to show me how to use some of these tools, and it blew me away.

In fact, my son loved it so much he said, “Dad, it doesn’t make sense anymore to fish the way you do.”

It made me chuckle, but he had a point.

There’s an old saying that goes, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

There’s nothing we can do about aging, but we can all learn to be mentally younger by accepting these young guns as our teachers.

There’s no replacement for hard work on the water; all great ideas come when you are mentally and physically exhausted.

Yet, nor can you stop learning if you want to improve. These young anglers are my teachers, and I’m ready to learn from them.

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