*Editor's note: This is the fourth in a series of columns by Jerry McKinnis on five of the Bassmaster Classic competitors
Just to refresh you a little bit, there have been some heavy-duty articles happening here on Bassmaster.com during CITGO Bassmaster Classic week.
I've been trying to throw in some oh-by-the-way stuff by telling a few stories about some of the Bassmaster Classic competitors that I have been around recently. In fact, I've been zeroed in on the things I remember most about that particular get-together.
You see, I sometimes get tired of the technical talk about these anglers and their equipment or their fishing styles. It's almost like they don't have anything but fishing going on in their lives, when in fact most of them are characters with great personalities and an incredible sense of humor. These are guys you might want to hang out with even if neither of you liked bass fishing.
Well I don't have to say that the thing I remember most about my last get-together with Rick Clunn leans toward fishing, but you might find it interesting anyway. As a matter of fact, if you're like me, you find everything interesting when it comes to Rick Clunn. So here goes:
Clunn and his family come to spend New Year's with me each year, and please don't think I'm name dropping here. It's just something we do, and I feel fortunate for it.
This past New Year's Day, as you folks who live in the Mid-South know, was unseasonably warm. It didn't even feel like the holidays with the temperature around 65 degrees.
The little boat I use to fish my pond had been in storage for two months. The aerator in the pond was shut off and basically the 8 acres had been closed, not to reopen until March 15.
So I live about a quarter of a mile from north Arkansas' White River. One morning after breakfast we decided to walk/climb up the mountain and look down on the river.
Some of the gang started walking through the woods and I hopped on my tractor and drove to the top. My thinking was that when we came back we wouldn't be as energetic and everyone would want a ride.
Regardless of how you get there the trip up the mountain is always interesting, and when on top it's peaceful enough that you might want to sit there watching the fishermen below you all day long. Even though they are nothing but tiny specks.
After about an hour of sitting up there, we were ready to load up and head back to the house. And, sure enough, everyone wanted to climb on the tractor and ride back with me. That is everyone but Clunn.
He's already headed back through the woods, doesn't want to talk about a seat on the tractor and seems to be on some sort of mission.
Going by tractor is five times longer than hiking, because you have to stay on the path. The extra distance and one small side trip put us back in the area of the house and the pond about 45 minutes later than what it took Clunn to get there.
Now we are getting to the moment I will always remember.
The road leading to the house first crosses the pond dyke. When I drive the tractor up on the dyke, I look down and there's Rick Clunn walking the pond bank, casting a spinnerbait as far as he can cast.
There is arguably the best fisherman, ever, totally focused on catching a two-pound fish out of my little pond.
I was frozen watching him because I thought that after all these years I was the only one who still went bananas over a fish striking your lure. But here is Rick Clunn, the best there ever was, feeling that same way.
Now I've pulled right down to him and I've shut the tractor off and bam! He rears back on a fish.
"Hey! You can't be catching any fish right now. It's New Year's Day. It's the middle of winter. These fish won't bite," I inform him
"Sure they will," he answered. "I've already caught three or four."
Then I noticed something else. Clunn hadn't stopped by the house and picked up one of my rods on the way to his little fishing excursion. He had his own rod and his own spinnerbait, which suggested to me he had this trip planned before he ever left his own house. Now I'm really impressed.
I stood there and watched him catch four or five more very nice fish, and I once again thought, "Wow. Rick Clunn the man who holds almost all of the Bassmaster Classic records still has the fishing bug so bad that he just had to walk that pond and see if he could make those fish bite."
This man should never cease to amaze any of us.
We had a great New Year's visit and far too quick, the Clunns loaded up and headed back to Ava, Mo.
Guess what I did just as soon as his vehicle was out of sight of my place though?
I ran for my rod with a spinnerbait on it.