Day 1 of the 2018 Bassmaster Classic is certainly one that Skeet Reese would like to forget. To his credit, he made no effort to get an early start on putting it behind him.
Reese didn't catch a single keeper from Lake Hartwell Friday – a day on which every other competitor in the 52-man field brought a limit to the scale at Bon Secours Arena in Greenville, S.C. He also didn't do what many defeated competitors across the entire sports spectrum have done under such deflating circumstances.
He didn't run from it.
The Classic hasn't been kind to its 2009 champion in recent years, but he'd never endured a day as miserable as Friday. He had to climb onto the stage in front of thousands of bass fishing fanatics with no fish. For a veteran pro who's experienced a great deal of success in the sport, that's no fun whatsoever.
He undoubtedly wanted to get the heck out of the arena immediately thereafter, and there have been anglers at past Classics who did just that after things didn't go their way. Instead, he went to the media room and answered every question that was asked about the nightmare scenario that had played out since he launched his boat approximately 11 hours earlier at Green Pond Landing.
He was angry, frustrated and embarrassed – that could be seen on his face and heard in his words as he did one interview after another for a half-hour, maybe even 45 minutes. He dropped an expletive or two in sessions that weren't being electronically recorded, trusting that they wouldn't appear in print. He made no excuses – what he'd thought would work simply didn't and he fully owned up to it.
He briefly mentioned that he almost certainly could've avoided the zero by pulling out a spinning rod with a shaky-head attached during the last couple hours of the day, but why? In his mind, that would've been surrender. He power-fished with swimbaits and the like until time had run out on him because he felt like that was the ticket to victory. And in the Classic, 1st place at the end of the final day is the only standings position that truly matters.
He did his best, and for that day, it was nowhere near as good as his peers. It wasn't close to the level achieved by the college student among the field, or the B.A.S.S. Nation qualifiers for whom fishing is a recreational pursuit rather than a livelihood. It was not a performance befitting of one of the most celebrated competitors in the game.
His conduct in the aftermath, however, was thoroughly professional and should be recalled by all of his fellow anglers when their own disastrous day arrives. Even under the most adverse circumstances, you don't throw in the towel in an effort to save some credibility among the masses.
And if your persistence doesn't pay off, you don't immediately slink away and sulk in private. Even the best of professionals can't always catch fish like a pro, but they can darn sure act like one afterward.
– John Johnson, BassFan Senior Editor