Skeet's Beat

August 31, 2010
The finale

Someone pointed out to me a few days ago that I've been doing this blog for more than a year, but that was hard for me to imagine.

We started Skeet's Beat at ICAST last year in Orlando when we launched my Wright & McGill Co. rods and TroKar hooks, so I guess it has been that long.

I didn't have a timeline in mind for how long I would do Skeet's Beat, but I feel like time has come for me to turn my attention to other things. But I didn't want to shut it down without saying thank you and goodbye to the people who have been reading Skeet's Beat for the past year or so.

A lot has happened in that time — a lot of good memories and a few painful ones, which I've tried to share with you as openly and completely as I could. The life we lead as professional anglers is not always an easy one. It can be lonely when we're on the road by ourselves for so long, but it certainly has its rewards.

One of those rewards has been hearing from you as I travel the Bassmaster Elite Series schedule. We've had some people comment about some of the things I've shared on Skeet's Beat, and it always feels good to know that someone got something out of the things I've run on the blog.

I hope that you've learned more about me and the passion I have for the sport, my desire to bring high quality products to market with my sponsors and my determination to be the best angler I can be.

Being a winning angler is something I care about, and as long as I've been competing, I've wanted to be known as a champion. I hope that through the blog my passion for winning, for the sport and for our business has come through.

Thank you to all who read it each week. This sport has a loyal and enthusiastic fan base. We get to see you at tournaments and at shows, but it's rare that we get a chance to communicate directly with you. Through the blog, we've been able to do that.

I should also say thank you to Bassmaster.com for allowing me the space to share a little about my life each week.

As for what's ahead, I'll be busy preparing for the 2011 Bassmaster Elite Series season and running the business of Skeet Reese Inc. My website (skeetreeseinc.com) will be the place to get everything you've come to expect from me and more. We'd love for you to visit.

Kim, the girls and I will be spending as much time as we can together before the whole thing kicks off again at the Louisiana Delta in February. Until that time, thanks for reading. It's meant a lot to all of us.

August 24, 2010
A needed break

Following our trip to Alaska and a few days of work around the house, the Reese family headed to the Northern California coast for a camping vacation. We wanted to spend more time together before the girls start school again.

The girls had a blast going to the beach, playing in the tide pools, catching crabs, little fish and starfish and touching sea urchins.

I took the opportunity to do a little abalone diving on the coast. For those of you who don't know, abalone diving is a special sport. Because abalone are attached to the rocks and have no real form of self-defense, you're not allowed to use oxygen tanks. You can only use snorkels.

That means you can only stay down so long and can only go so deep. I rented a wet suit, which is necessary in the cool waters of the north coast, and spent a couple of days diving into about 12 feet of water. I got a bunch of abalone to cook up, and I didn't have any run-ins with Great White sharks!

After getting back from camping, it was time for the Indy Racing League Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway, and I went. I fell in love with the IRL last year when I got to go to Infineon. Then Kim and I went to the Indy 500, so I was looking forward to the race.

Former BASS television personality Robbie Floyd (who now works for IRL on Versus) and Kevin "Rocket" Blanch set it up for me to go to the hospitality tent. I ate the food and watched the race from there. It was a great time.

Robbie, Rocket and I left early Monday morning following the race to head to Clear Lake to try our hand at beating up on some California largemouth. I'd been hearing people complain about the water conditions and tough fishing at the lake, but after the brutal weather conditions and tough fishing in Alabama, I was looking forward to getting on the water again.

Clear Lake didn't disappoint. We caught between 25 and 30 bass. Our best five would have weighed between 22 and 23 pounds, which isn't bad, especially when you're catching them on frogs. I put one of my new Wright & McGill Co. Micro Honeycomb Football Jig/Big Worm rods and my Victory baitcasting reels to the test. I tied the frog to 50-pound-test SpiderWire braid and tried to break the rod. I couldn't, and I was very happy about that.

More than anything, it was great to be on my favorite lake with friends, catching some Clear Lake big heads!

On a personal note, I've received dozens of supportive emails from fans regarding the postseason. I'm working putting together a note that I'll publish on skeetreeseinc.com in the next couple of days.

August 17, 2010

I've had a little more than a week to decompress since our season ended, and I can now look at the season with some objectivity.

The way it ended didn't make me happy; but after looking at things, I can take a lot of pride in the season I had. To walk away without the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year trophy leaves a bittersweet taste in my mouth, but I am proud of the year.

Besides, being away from all of the hustle of the business has helped put my priorities in line. Kim, the girls and I, along with a group of family and friends, went on an Alaskan cruise the week after the season ended, and it really helped to take the edge off.

As soon as the boat docked in Juno, a few of us boarded a plane to Anglers Inn in Gustavas, Alaska, where they have halibut trips, and we had a lot of fun. We fished with two great guides, KC and Andy, and though they say it's the best giant halibut fishery in Alaska, we didn't land one that day. We did catch a few decent fish, up to 60 or 70 pounds, and the trip was a lot of fun.

We had opportunities at a couple of giants; one member of our party lost one between 150 to 200 pounds when his line was cut on the boat's trim tabs. I lost a big one, too. Those halibut can cut 80-pound-test Spiderwire with their teeth very easily.

The best part of the whole trip for me was spending some quality time with Kim and the girls. It will be a main priority again this week when we go to the California coast for a camping trip.

Being with the girls reminds me of their outlook. It doesn't matter how many tournaments I win, or how many big fish I catch — or lose for that matter — I'm just "Daddy" to them, and it puts life in perspective for me.

I've started to think about next year a little. One of the things I'm working on between family trips is to order my boat for next year. I'm going through the process of working with Stratos to order my new Champion Elite Series 210, and I have to say I'm excited about it.

With the changes at Champion last year, I didn't order a new boat. I fished out of my 2009 model, so it's kind of fun to go through and order a new one. I've been on the phone with Mercury, MotorGuide and Lowrance to get all the parts needed to make the boat operate the way I need it to compete on the Elite Series.

This is a busy time for me. Working out is a priority and I'll spend time working with sponsors and media. But I really look forward to being a husband and daddy. That's the best part.

August 3, 2010
Different than I wanted

The two-week postseason is behind us, and I walk away from a great season — the best one I've had professionally — without the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year trophy. It's the second year in a row that things have ended up this way, and I have to tell you, it sucks to be on this end of things.

All of my competitors came up to me at one point or another on Saturday after weigh-in and said sorry for the result. Even KVD said he felt for me. I wouldn't expect anything less than that from him; he's a friend, and he let me know he understood how I felt.

On the topic of Kevin, he went out there and did his job and walked away with the trophy. He fished great over those four competition days. Even though it cost me winning the trophy, I still congratulated him, and he would have done the same for me. The rest of those guys did the same thing, fished hard and did their job. That's what we do — compete to win.

Looking back on the events, I had a couple of opportunities to close things out, and I didn't convert on them. Not weighing a limit on Day 2 at Lake Jordan really hurt my points lead. Had I landed one of the three fish I lost, I would have probably added a little to my lead going into the last two days.

I also had some things at the Alabama River that cost me as well. I had a small keeper die early in the first day that, by BASS rules, I couldn't cull. So, instead of being able to weigh any one of the 1 1/2 to 1 3/4-pound fish I had caught that would have increased my weight by as much as a pound, I weighed that little guy.

I also lost a 3-pounder early on Day 2 at the river that would have closed out the AOY title for me as well. I flipped into a little shoreline cover, felt the bite, set the hook and pulled it to the surface, but it just came off. I saw the fish, and it hurt to lose one that size.

Flipping seemed to be the dominant pattern on the Alabama River, and that was the program I settled on for my tournament. I used a creature bait and 3/4-ounce tungsten bullet weight with a 4/0 Lazer TroKar Flippin' Hook on 25-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon on my Wright & McGill Co. Skeet Reese Tessera Rods and new Victory reels. I flipped them to isolated stumps and laydowns in 2 feet of water in backwaters along the lower ends of the river.

Edwin Evers, Terry Butcher and Tommy Biffle all had good days on the final day of competition, and I know they were flipping, I just didn't convert on all of the bites I had. I'm okay with my effort. I fished hard all day long, and things just didn't work out.

It will take a while, but I'll get past the immediate feelings and turn my attention to next year. For now, I'm going to spend some time with Kim and the girls. I miss them so much when I'm on the road, and I'm home now.

July 27, 2010
Halfway through

The first event of the postseason at Lake Jordan is behind us; I fished as hard as I could in the Alabama heat for two days but in the end, the points got tighter, which will certainly make next week more challenging and interesting for the fans.

I did whatever it took to get a bite on Lake Jordan; I caught them on a frog, caught them on a Berkley PowerBait Shaky Worm, and caught them on a crankbait. Basically, I junk fished.

I'm pissed at myself because I had the opportunity to keep my lead, or maybe even extend it a little, and I didn't come in with a limit Sunday. I actually extended my lead by a half a point after the first day, but then didn't weigh a limit on day two, and I left the door open for everyone else.

Obviously, I had hoped to close the door more, but now that things didn't go as planned, I have my work cut out for me. But that's still a few days away. We have a lot of activities planned for the next couple of days that will take center stage.

Monday was Media Day near the hotel here in Montgomery. We did interviews with local television, with the national media that follows the tour, and I even did some stuff for my site (skeetreeseinc.com). After Media Day, we had a couple hours to relax before heading to Bass Pro Shops where we did an autograph signing session for the fans at the store. Then we meet the "Hope for Warriors" partners we'll be fishing with today (Tuesday).

Each of the Elite Series competitors who qualified for Toyota Trucks Championship Week will be paired with a veteran who was injured in service for our country at a local private lake. Then Bass Pro Shops gives them a $200 gift card, and we go on a little shopping spree and help them spend it for the next day's outing.

I'm looking forward to the day's outing because the fishing is supposed to be good (a private lake with some big bass), and we're saying thank you to veterans. These people sacrificed nearly everything in defense of the American way of life, and I'm looking forward to spending some time with them on the water.

The whole event is supposed to be for fun, but you put 12 of the world's top bass anglers on the water and things are bound to get competitive. BASS Tournament Director Trip Weldon told us this lake has produced bass over 11 pounds and it's not yet five years old.

After we fish, we'll have lunch; then we'll head back to the boat yard where BASS and the City of Montgomery have arranged a fish fry where our families and some winners of local radio contests will get a chance to visit.

Then, when Wednesday rolls around, we'll get to practice on the Alabama River for the final two days of competition. I have a lot of work to do, but I'm confident I can still accomplish the goal.

July 20, 2010

ICAST is over and I have to say that I'm stoked about the response to my new signature Wright & McGill products. Oh, that's right; I didn't get a chance to tell you about them because my last blog was before the start of the show.

In case you haven't heard, Wright & McGill and I teamed up to release new Victory reels at ICAST, a new Micro Honeycomb line of rods, and a Skeet Reese Jr. Champion combo. All of the products were well received by the media and attendees at the show, and we are looking forward to the public's reception of them as well. They are designed to be great values, with features normally found in products that cost three times as much. I did a review of the products on my Web site if you want to check them out.

I got a chance to see a great show while we were in Las Vegas. Kim and I took Lea, Courtney and my in-laws Tom and Donna to the Cirque De Soleil The Beatles: LOVE show. It was amazing. The music and lights combined with the dancing and acrobatics made for one of the best shows I've ever seen. In fact, we were all ready to watch it again as we were walking out of the show.

After the show, I went to Tulsa to pick up the Lucky Craft/PowerBait Big Rig at my friend Alan McGuckin's house. Alan works for Dynamic Sponsorships, and they are the marketing firm that works with Toyota, but he is a friend first.

After picking up the boat, I headed to Flippin, Ark., to go to the Stratos Boats dealer meetings. I met some of the new dealers and got a chance to tour the plant. There I learned more about the way they'll build the new Stratos Champion Elite Series Boats and met some of the people who will be building them. I'm happy I did.

As happy as I was with the way ICAST turned out, I was even happier to hear the news that they got the oil leak in the Gulf capped finally. I love fishing and I love our industry; the news about the problem in the Gulf with the sinking of that oil rig has basically shut down sportfishing in the region. It shouldn't have.

From everything I've been hearing, the inshore fishing there is as good as it ever has been. There are some great guides with a lot of open schedules just waiting to share it with their clients. So, if you can, get out and go fishing.

Now that everything is behind us business-wise for now, it's time to get back to the business of fishing, and I can't wait. I'm on my way to Montgomery to spend a couple of days getting my rods and reels ready, my tackle organized and get prepared for the heat of the Alabama summer.

All of my time here will be spent preparing before we can get on Lake Jordan for official practice, and I can't wait to get started. It's time to get busy!

July 13, 2010
Looking forward to ICAST

Tomorrow is when the 2010 International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST) tradeshow officially kicks off, and I am really looking forward to it.

We made a big splash in 2009 with the release of the Wright & McGill Co. Skeet Reese Tessera rods; and the TroKar kick off was amazing, too. The attention these products got at the show in Orlando was great, and the feedback we've seen from customers in both communication and sales has been better than I could have imagined in my wildest dreams.

We also launched the Wiley X Xcess sunglasses this year at the Bassmaster Classic, and although it wasn't at ICAST, they've done exceptionally well.

I can't thank you — the fans and customers of the sport of bass fishing — enough for everything this past year; the commitment my sponsors have made to quality and value has done exactly what I have always wanted to do — bring products to the angling community that they could afford to use without sacrificing quality.

I'm really looking forward to ICAST again in 2010 as the fishing industry steps up and shows their wares to the public through the outdoor media. I'll be there to support my sponsors with their product launches. I'm scheduled to spend some time in the booths of Wright & McGill Co., Lazer TroKar, Pure Fishing and Wiley X displaying their products and talking to the media.

Each of these companies makes products that I use every day in competition, and I am proud to wear their logos and help promote their great brands and amazing products.

I am looking forward to ICAST personally, as well. We've got some new and exciting things to show you again, and I've been biting my tongue for months now wanting to say how excited I am to bring these products to the angling public.

A lot of work and testing goes into each one, and we won't release them until they are good enough for me to use in the Bassmaster Elite Series. All of the products are items I've been using for a little while now on tour and are a part of my success this past season.

While I have to wait until tomorrow to tell you exactly what the products are, I can tell you that there are new models of my rods coming. I'll finally be able to show the world the new signature reels that I've been working on — they're awesome. I've also got another product that I'll be showing off that I'm pretty excited about. I'll have a full release detailing all of the products live on skeetreeseinc.com on Wednesday morning when the show kicks off, in case you don't want to wait until the media covers them.

I'm also excited because Kim and the girls will be in Las Vegas with me. Kim was in Orlando last year to see the TroKar and Wright & McGill Co. launches. But this will be the first time Lea and Courtney will be there to see what daddy does in his job when he's not on the water. They've been to local sports shows at home but ICAST is different; it should be a lot of fun.

Oh alright, I can't wait anymore, if you promise not to tell anyone I'll let you in on the secret, my new products are...

July 6, 2010
A family Fourth of July

Sunday was the Fourth of July, and I got to spend it with my girls, which is always a good thing.

Some friends of ours own a home on a small lake in the central valley of California, and we went to visit them for the holiday.

Being that it was on a lake — I couldn't help myself — I fished for a little while. I didn't have the boat or even my rods with me, but when I saw all of the bass swimming around, I had to try for them.

Our friends only had ultralight spinning rigs for trout and panfish, so I rigged up an impromptu drop shot rig with 4-pound-test line, a number 10 mosquito hook and a little Berkley Power worm. I caught quite a few bass with this undersized rig, even a couple of 3-pounders.

Lea and Courtney fished for a little while as well, mainly for bluegill, but they both caught one bass as well. It's amazing what a hard fighting bass can do to those little mosquito hooks, we had a couple straighten out hooks.

It was fun to fish that way, and even more fun to see the girls get excited catching fish.

All of that excitement included watching the fireworks display at the lake, and that was impressive. We were about 200 yards from where they shot them off, which was pretty cool to see. The girls had an absolute blast, and they stayed up too late, but oh well, that's a national holiday for you.

On the way home from our friend's house, we stopped and picked up the birthday present Kim got for me — a Big Green Egg grill. I was totally stoked. I've wanted one of those things for a while. The service crews on the Elite Series have them, and they cook on them all the time. The best chicken I've ever tasted came from one of those things, and I wanted one of my own.

We did have an unfortunate experience with the egg though. When we were setting it up, I lost control of the lid, and it slipped off, shattering the ceramic liner on the inside of the top. Kim called to find out about getting the replacement part for it, but they've had such a rush on them, that it's going to be a while before I can get it.

I guess I may have to try to call in a favor. The Big Green Egg sponsors J. Todd Tucker, one of our Elite Series pros, and I may just have to see if he can help get the top faster. J. Todd, if you're reading this, I need you, and all the King's horses and men to help put my Big Green Humpty Dumpty back together again.

I'll get an opportunity to spend some quiet time with Kim before the business of fishing starts again. The girls are going to spend some time with their grandparents, so Kim and I can go away for an early anniversary trip. We're going to try our hand at whitewater rafting; I'm really looking forward to it.

ICAST is coming up, then we hit the water again soon after, but I'm just enjoying this quiet time with my family. It's been great.

June 29, 2010
A great week

It has been a nice break from the grind of the tournament season this week.

Not that things have been slow — they've been anything but that — but I've been with my girls, and it has been a blast.

We celebrated Kim's birthday, and her gift was that she wanted me to go to a pilates class with her, so I did. I do yoga sometimes, but this was much different. It included a machine that enhanced everything. It certainly was a workout. The best part of the whole thing was spending some time with Kim. We don't get to do that enough, but I'm sure everyone can relate.

Along with Kim's birthday, we also celebrated my youngest daughter's birthday. It was a family affair with a barbeque and the pool and a waterslide that all of the kids went down hundreds of times. We had a lot of fun and once again, it was all about the family, which I really enjoyed.

Along with the party, we just got a chance to hang out as a family, swim in the pool and spend some time together. It was one of the best weekends I've had in a while.

There's always work to be done, though. And even though we have to work it in around the family, you never rest when you run your own business. We had to do some filming for a future project, but I was happy that we got to include the girls in it.

We got to fish from the bank at some local ponds and lakes, and we had a blast. We caught a bunch of fish while we were filming, so it was productive. We have one more day to film in order to get all of the things we need, and while there is the pressure of getting it right, it really is a lot of fun.

The best part of the whole experience is that I'm doing it with my girls. Even with the camera on us, I'm getting a chance to spend a lot of time with them, catching fish and laughing a lot. It couldn't be better.

I wish it could all be fun and games, but there's a lot of work to do in preparation for tournaments and for the rest of the business year. ICAST is coming up in Las Vegas, and I've got a couple of meetings with sponsors before it. We're doing some work in preparation for the biggest trade show the fishing industry has each year.

ICAST is the place companies show off all of their new products to the media and buyers for the retail stores. It's a busy and potentially rewarding time of the year, and there's always a lot to do. Last year we made a big splash with my rods, and TroKar was a huge success; I hope to follow through with that momentum from last year.

Along with getting ready for the show, I've been getting ready for the weeks ahead. We've got two tournaments ahead of us to decide the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title. I'm also working out — when I can — to try and stay in tip-top shape for the rest of the season.

With all of that ahead of me, I'm grateful for this week with my girls.

June 22, 2010
Charging Fort Gibson

Nobody was planning on fishing at Fort Gibson, but after the way things finished, I'm kind of glad we did.

We were supposed to be on the Arkansas River out of Muskogee, Okla., but the flash floods that hit the area left the river unsafe with debris, and BASS Tournament Director Trip Weldon and the rest of the BASS Event staff made the call to protect us. It's really hard to disagree with that.

We ended up on a cool fishery; Fort Gibson was the type of fishing we didn't expect when we came to Oklahoma. We'd all prepared for river fishing and ended up with a reservoir. The other thing that made it interesting was that it was Tommy Biffle's home lake, and he held serve for four days, winning on a lake everyone expected him to.

I almost caught him on the last day.

I really didn't expect to finish in second place when we started the final day, and especially after I had some mechanical issues and had to trade boats on the water — there wasn't any way I thought I would have been able to move up to second place.

First, thank you to Cheryl Spencer, our Berkley and Lowrance Field Services representative. She brought her boat to me on the water when I needed help, and it helped me finish the tournament.

I will admit, I thought her boat was cursed right after she brought it to me, because I lost two fish that would have helped me right after the switch. But it didn't take long to find out it wasn't cursed. I had about 14 1/2 pounds at around 2 p.m. Next I made a run to the other end of the lake and culled three of my fish. I thought I had a little over 16 pounds and was pleased to find out I had 18.

I caught my fish on two lures: a brown 3/8-ounce football jig with a 3-inch green pumpkin Berkley PowerBait Chigger Craw, and a Lucky Craft RC 2.5 crankbait in several different different colors — Copper Shad, Chartreuse Copper Shad and Splatterback were among them. I threw both baits on versions of my Wright & McGill Co. rods and used 15-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon on a final prototype of a new reel.

What I will say is that I was fishing so shallow that I actually wore the bills off some of my RC 2.5 crankbaits; about every hour and a half, I had to change them. Once one stopped grinding the bottom and turned into a wake bait, I had to tie a new one on. I started out a little deeper, but thanks in part to Mike McClelland, figured out they were really shallow.

By finishing in second, I grabbed a bunch more points heading into the last two tournaments of the year in Alabama, and I look forward to competing down there.

I'll have a couple of weeks to spend with Kim and the girls and get ready physically for the rest of the season. I'll also be going to ICAST in Las Vegas in the middle of July before we get back to competing. There's a lot to do, but I'm really going to enjoy spending a couple of weeks with my family.

June 15, 2010
Beat up at Kentucky Lake

I don't know what else to say about my tournament last week, other than to say that I got beat up at Kentucky Lake. I have nobody to blame but myself, as I made a few decisions that ended up being wrong in the grand scheme of things.

In years past, the fish at Kentucky seemed to be concentrated in the 5- to 15-foot depth range, and I was focusing on that zone; but I was off the mark by a little bit. After the event, while I was on my drive to Oklahoma, I had a chance to think about the event and talk to a couple of fellow competitors, and it looks like the fish were using that 15- to 25-foot zone more so than the shallower.

In my experiences there, the fish seem to hold just off those ledges, and move up to feed heavily on top of the ridges whenever the current is running. I kept seeing fish out deeper on my Lowrance HDS10 and was expecting the current to start up a little stronger for them to move up so I could pile drive them; it didn't happen.

I was really off on the first day, having only a little more than 14 pounds, and I knew I had some catch-up work to do. I thought I had enough to fish Day 3 when I weighed in, and so did tournament director Trip Weldon. But it wasn't meant to be. My 15-pound, 8-ounce bag left me 11 ounces short of fishing Day 3 and making a move up in the standings.

I was geared up for the event, too. I had Lucky Craft paint me some RC 3.5 DD crankbaits in my favorite deep cranking colors special for this event, and man was I fired up to use them. I got out there all pumped up to jack them up on a crankbait. I went to throwing that plug and throwing it and throwing it — you get the picture.

I caught them on a jig.

To be exact, I was stroking a 3/8-ounce football jig and a three-inch Berkley PowerBait Chigger Craw to catch all but one of the fish I weighed in. One good thing was I got to put a workout on my Wright & McGill Co. Football Jig/Big Worm rod. It's not what I'd planned on doing, but oh well.

I really tried forcing the crankbait bite, and that's not like me. Normally I really work hard to maximize what the fish give me, but I didn't this time.

There are three more events left in the season, and it's up to me to close them out. I'd given myself a big lead and have let it slip a little, but I can still get it done.

I will say this, I don't like being in the service yard on the third day of the tournament. Those techs don't cut me any slack. I pulled in there to get a little service work done on my Mercury/Stratos Champion Elite Series, and Jay (our Mercury service tech) looks at me and says with a laugh, "Man, you suck — loser!"

I guess I had that one coming. Love you, too, Jay.

June 1, 2010
Let's go racin'

I told you last week that Kim and I were going to get a chance to go to the Indy 500, and what an experience it was.

We were supposed to have an easy travel day Thursday, but with flight delays we didn't get into Indianapolis until nearly two o'clock in the morning Friday, and we had to be at the track at eight that morning.

Last year, my friend Robbie Floyd, a television announcer for Indy Racing League, set it up for me to go to Sonoma for the race there. I met Brian Barnhart and Kevin "Rocket" Blanch and took them fishing on Clear Lake. They invited me to the Indy 500 as a guest of IRL, and Kim and I got to do a lot of different things.

Rocket took us through the pits, and we met Mario Andretti and A.J. Foyt and a bunch of other people and personalities with the teams and the league. It was amazing. After our tour, Rocket took us out to what they call the trench, a long walled area about four feet wide that separates the track from pit row, and we got to watch some of practice from there.

I've been around NASCAR a little bit, and that is amazing, but there is nothing like the speed these cars can reach when they are going around that huge oval racetrack.

Many of them reached speeds topping 220 miles per hour on the straightaway, and until you see that in person, there is no way to describe it. We got to see it in person, up close on the final practice day. It took Kim at least a half an hour to unwind from the intensity of the speed, noise and intensity of the trench. We were only 10 to 15 feet away from cars going more than 200 miles an hour. It was no joke.

We went back to the RV and hung out with friends and folks, tailgating and enjoying the festivities of Indy, and that was a lot of fun in itself. On Saturday, my older brothers Jim and John flew in, and we took them to the race. We don't often get to do many things together because of schedules, and it was great for Kim and me to share the trip with them.

The race was a blur. There were too many things to tell in the short space I have here, but we got to watch the race from the hospitality suite overlooking the Penske and Ganassi pits. It was great to have the air conditioning to hang out in because from what I've heard, it was one of the hottest Indy 500 races in history.

It was kind of a bittersweet ending to the race when Mike Conway crashed in the last lap. His car went airborne and came to pieces as it hit the catch fence. It was scary for everyone until we found out he suffered broken bones in his leg (and a fracture in his back, we later learned). Until we found out he was OK, it put a damper on the end of the race.

They took what was left of the car off the track on a crane, and the little pieces of the carbon fiber body were carried off in buckets.

I'm home for a few more days, then off to Kentucky Lake. Two more regular season events to go!

May 25, 2010

I'd like to tell you all that I didn't see that one coming, but the truth is, I knew that there was a chance for a lot of us to have a bad tournament at Clarks Hill.

I was just hoping it wasn't me. It was, and it kind of stings a little.

After the first day of practice, I felt like I could do OK — not spectacular, but enough to fish on Saturday. Then after the second and third day of practice I felt like it could be a tough tournament.

I never found the groups of schooling fish that some of my competitors did in practice, and I tried to grind it out, but this time it didn't work out for me. I was scrambling most of Day 1, and I caught fish on a Berkley Hollow Belly swimbait, an original mop jig and a Carolina Rig.

My only problem was, I only caught three keepers, and that bothered me more than not making the cut. I'm a professional angler, and since I do this for a living, I expect to catch five keepers every day. I didn't, I wasn't happy about it, and I made some adjustments to try and change it the next day.

I picked up my Wright & McGill Co. Swimbait/Carolina Rig Rod and went to throwing a Carolina rig exclusively for the first time in a long time. The trick to getting my limit and moving up on the second day was to downsize the rig.

I spooled my reel with 12-pound-test Berkley 100% Fluorocarbon main line, downscaled my sinker to 3/4 ounce, tied on a 10-pound-test leader of the same line and put a five-inch watermelon red flake PowerBait Finesse Worm on a 1/0 TroKar Wide Gap worm hook and got my limit.

I actually caught more than my limit on Day 2 — as many as 30 fish, but a lot of them were small. I probably only caught 12 or 13 keepers. It was enough to move up 20 places, but I still missed the cut to Saturday, and I wasn't happy leaving that many points on the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year table.

You only get so many opportunities to compete on this level, and we've got two tournaments left this year, then it's time to get ready for the postseason. That will be the competitive focus, and the postseason is the ultimate goal.

I'm looking forward to the break we have for a couple of weeks here. Kim and I are getting ready to go to the Indy 500 next weekend, and we're really looking forward to that.

Outside of that, I'll spend as much time with the girls as I can, I'll work out to try and keep the edge, and put in some time on the business getting ready for ICAST. It's a busy time in and around tournament schedules.

We've got some exciting things happening in the Reese family these days, there's a lot to look forward to, and we'll share more about them when we can.

May 18, 2010
Tornadoes and random thoughts

I left Guntersville last week and went to Oklahoma to learn to navigate the Arkansas River without the time pressure of the practice. I'm glad I did because people are going to break some stuff up there. As far as navigation, it could be worse than Iowa last year.

I was there as the tornadoes that pummeled Norman and Oklahoma City were coming through, and I have to say that I was actually really nervous being there for that. I was staying at a buddy's house when it passed us by 6 miles, and we were hunkered down in his cousin's storm shelter. It was a scary situation.

I feel bad for the people who lost property, and especially terrible for the loss of life during that storm. It was a really bad deal. My heart goes out to the people in that area.

Our weather has been weird this year all over the country, and I think it's making the fish act differently as well. I've even heard that the fish in the lakes back home in California haven't done any one thing in big waves like they normally do, and fishing is off the normal pattern.

Here it is almost June and we haven't had any real strings of days at 80 degrees to make the fish group up in what normally is called the Sunshine State.

Weights have been down overall everywhere, and people are having to make adjustments to try and locate quality fish again. It is amazing how much these changes affect the fish.

It was really nice to get home for a couple of days last week after being gone for two weeks for Pickwick and Guntersville. Kim and the girls were happy to see me, and it was great to celebrate the Guntersville win with them.

I spent much of the week just hanging out with them and unwinding, but there is always work to be done. I tried as much as I could to keep things about home for the two days I was there and tried to avoid too much business.

I mowed some weeds around our property, hung out with Kim and the girls and got myself relaxed and ready to go for Clarks Hill.

I am totally looking forward to this tournament being over though. Not because I don't want to fish it, but because Kim and I are going to the Indy 500 together after it's over.

If you've read Skeet's Beat for long, you'll remember that last year I got to go to Infineon Raceway near my home in northern California and see the IRL Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma. I became an instant fan of the sport. My friend Robbie Floyd set that up last year, and I was really glad he did.

The technology behind the cars, the dedication of the drivers and the speed of the whole thing is amazing. I can't imagine what it must look like on the big racetrack at Indy when they can really let those cars run. I'm looking forward to that and to spending some good time with Kim.

Until then, its tournament time. Time to focus.

May 11, 2010
Thanks, Guntersville!

I really don't know what to say now. I certainly didn't plan on walking away the winner on Sunday after Davy Hite took the lead on Saturday.

I fished as relaxed as I have in a while, mainly because I figured that I was fishing for a top three finish. I thought Davy had it sewn up, and I was just trying to stay ahead of John Crews. Both of those guys had big bags on Saturday, and I knew I had to catch them pretty good on Sunday to get as many points as I could for the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race.

Then, at around noon, I saw Davy running around quite a bit in my area. The thought occurred to me that he might be struggling. If that was the case, my thoughts at that point turned to Crews, that he had the potential to catch another 27 or 28 pounds, so I had to catch a bag myself if I wanted to have a chance.

I caught a couple of big ones late in the day that gave me the 25-pound bag, and I knew I had a shot at least. When I got to weigh-in and saw the bags, I felt pretty good about my chances. I started the morning goofing off with my cameraman. By the end of the day, things got serious, and it just worked out.

It means a lot to win on Guntersville. Every win is special, but to win on that lake is like winning a golf tournament at Augusta. It's hallowed ground. Someone told me that this is something like the 20th tournament BASS has held on Guntersville, and many of the greats have won here. It's one of the most well known lakes in the sport.

I really caught a lot of fish last week, and most of them came on a bait that Rick Clunn designed — the Lucky Craft RC 3.5 DD in Splatterback Shad pattern. I threw them on my 7-10 Wright & McGill Co. Skeet Reese Tessera Magnum Crankbait rod to get extra distance on the cast, and used Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon to get the bait down deep faster.

I caught a couple of fish I weighed on an original Mop Jig, and a couple of keepers on another crankbait, but the RC 3.5 DD was the main killer. I don't know how many fish I caught on it, but it was a bunch.

Aside from winning on Guntersville, one of the other high spots for the week was to see my roommate John Murray make the cut and get a check. I gave him a little clue as to what I was doing on Day 2, and being the angler John is, he was able to take it and build upon it. I was really happy for him to get going like this.

It was a bummer to be away from Kim and the Girls on Mother's Day, but all in all, I think the Reese family had a pretty good celebration. I guess I'll have to take some of the winnings and buy her a bunch of roses and take her to dinner. She deserves it.

May 4, 2010
Goodbye Pickwick, on to Guntersville

The fourth tournament of the year is behind us, and I was able to continue my task of adding as many points as possible to my total in every tournament this year.

I really wasn't sure what to think heading into the Alabama Charge tournament on Pickwick and Wilson because I had never been on either one of them. Before the event, I probably would have been happy with a top 20, but after figuring them out on Saturday and taking the lead, I wanted to win.

I was not thrilled with the decision to cut the fishing day short because I knew that it was going to affect my ability to lock through to Wilson and have enough time to fish. As the weigh-in was starting, the weather really started coming in. It was probably the right decision in hindsight, but I really wanted to fish the whole day.

But, as it sat anyway, Kevin Short and Cliff Pace had really good days, and even if I had 18 pounds, I still would have been beaten by them. I did lose a couple of fish on Sunday that may have moved me up a place or two, but I'll take it as a successful week overall.

With this finish, I added to my points lead in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race, which is what I wanted to do in the long run. My goal is to put a huge points number up in the regular season to really make it hard to catch me in the postseason. Winning Angler of the Year is always the objective.

I spent two days of my practice on Wilson, then spent the last practice day on Pickwick near the takeout looking for a bite that could produce in the times I was waiting for the lock or returning from Wilson. What I found was that I was going to have to do a little bit of everything because the fish are in all stages of the spawn.

I caught some on the same Rago SKT Swimmer that I used to win at Smith Mountain, caught some on a 1/2-ounce green pumpkin football jig with a matching 3-inch Berkley PowerBait Chigger Craw. I caught a few on an Aurora Black Lucky Craft Gunfish 95 topwater bait and a few on a 1/4-ounce shaky head with a 5-inch green pumpkin PowerBait Shaky Worm.

My Wright & McGill Co. signature rods littered the deck, and my SKT Revos and Soron reels had everything from 8- to 20-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon and 30-pound-test Spiderwire Ultracast on them. It was a junk fisherman's paradise this past week. I'll have a full breakdown of my program on skeetreeseinc.com in the next day or so.

Now it's on to Guntersville, where I finished in second place to Aaron last year, and it looks like the conditions may be similar. The water should be dirty as we start practice, but there's going to be plenty of current, and it should clear as the week goes on.

I hear that the fishing pressure on the lake is huge right now, as anywhere from 200 to 300 boats fish it everyday. We'll just have to wait and see what the combination of fishing pressure, high water and heavy current will mean.

April 27, 2010
Proud of my girls

I'm going to take this time to talk about something that most parents will completely understand. I'm so proud of my girls!

While I was finishing up on Sunday at Smith Mountain Lake, Lea and Courtney were participating in a trike-a-thon for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. St Jude's specializes in the care and treatment of children with cancer and understands the special needs of families in the situation.

The hospital, in Memphis, Tenn., allows the patient and three of their family members to live in an apartment or room during treatment. Their reputation as a hospital is impeccable, and their concern for the patient and their families is focused on caring for everyone. St Jude's is amazing.

Kim and I want our girls to know the joy of giving to others, and taking part in a fundraiser like this is just one of the ways that we encourage them to participate.

The event was a fundraiser for the hospital, and family and friends pledged a dollar amount in a flat rate, or by the number of laps that the girls would ride their tricycles around the course. Every penny sent goes to help St. Jude's with funding for their programs.

My girls did great. Lea, our 7-year-old, showed that she has the same competitive streak as me. She set a record with 275 laps in three hours; and Courtney, our 3 1/2-year-old did 67 laps of her own around the course.

Kim told me that Lea wasn't going to be beat and that her 275 laps is a new record. She took off like a rocket around the track and kept going until she started to get tired toward the end. When she found out that another boy was within 10 laps of her, she got another burst of energy and closed strong.

When she was done, she had a bruise on her rear end from the hard seat on the trike, and another one on her left knee from the handlebars from turning left all day. Apparently, Lea has the same desire to win as I do, and when she sets her mind to accomplishing something, she does it.

When it was over, both girls were exhausted, I couldn't have been prouder of their effort. They both gave everything they had on behalf of St. Jude's and their patients.

Now for the other side of the coin — I'm in Alabama now getting ready for the Alabama Charge on Pickwick Lake in northern Alabama, and it couldn't have started worse. Some dirtbag broke into my boat and stole all of my rods and reels on Saturday night.

They lifted my cover, popped open my rod lockers and walked away with 20 or so of my Wright & McGill Skeet Reese rods and Abu Garcia reels. Fortunately, they didn't take my lures and other gear, some of which are entirely irreplaceable.

Thanks to Brent Chapman, Wright & McGill and Abu Garcia, I'll be OK. I had some extra rods in the truck, and Chapman, my Wright & McGill teammate, gave me a few more to use.

Cheryl Spencer, Pure Fishing's field services rep here, had a few reels for me, and Tammy Cox is sending some more. My sponsors are so good to me, but this is not the way I like to find that out. Now the lockers will be double-locked with the locks and a locker bar, and I'll still have the cover on.

Time to get to work on Pickwick; I've never seen it or Wilson before. We'll see what I can put together.

April 20, 2010
The top of Smith Mountain

I almost don't know what to say after a weekend like I just had.

I start every season with two goals: (1) to win a regular season Elite Series event and (2) to win the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title.

One goal down; one to go.

It feels really good to break through after losing in the Delta by an ounce; but to win, and by the second largest margin in Elite Series history, is a great feeling. I guess it may even be enough to make up for all those ounces that other anglers beat me by.

The first time we were there, I threw a drop shot a lot, and last year I mainly fished for spawners but threw a swimbait a little as well. This year, the swimbait was the main thing, and I mixed in a little bit of sight fishing when I came across one.

Smith Mountain just seems to set up really well for me. In three trips there I've finished in the top 10 twice — and now a win. I grew up fishing docks on Clear Lake and, with so many of them on Smith Mountain, I feel comfortable there.

That being said, I didn't really target docks this year. Instead, I ran a bunch of different banks — as many as 40 to 60 spots a day — throwing the Rago Bait Co. SKT Swimmer. I was catching them in 1 to 3 feet of water around rocks.

I threw the swimbait on my 7-foot, 6-inch Wright & McGill Co. Skeet Reese Tessera Swimbait/Carolina Rig Rod and SKT Revo with 20-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon.

I filled in a few fish on a watermelon Berkley PowerBait Heavyweight Worm on a 1/0 TroKar drop shot hook on 8-pound-test 100% Fluorocarbon with an Abu Garcia Soron spinning reel with my Wright & McGill Co. Shaky Head/Senko rod.

After the big move I made on Day 3, and starting the final day with a 6-pound lead, I really wasn't sure what kind of weight I'd need to close it out. So, when it took me a while to catch my first fish on the final morning, I started to get nervous.

I managed to catch a 3-pounder, then a 2 1/2, and when my third fish of the morning was a 5-pounder, I felt like I had enough. But, without knowing what everybody else has, you always feel like you want a little more. When I closed out my limit, I felt pretty confident; and when I caught the 6-9 at 1:30, I knew it was over.

I got so excited when I landed the big fish, I raised my arms over my head and somehow knocked my Wiley X signature sunglasses off my head, bouncing them off the deck and into the water. I told the spectators to mark their waypoints, because they could be one of the first to get my new shades if they wanted to swim.

The fans were awesome. It was a great weekend. I loved being able to hold that trophy high. The only thing that would have made it better would have been if Kim and the girls were there. They make everything better.

It's OK that they weren't though. It was for a worthy cause. Lea and Courtney rode a trike-a-thon as a fundraiser for St. Jude's Hospital on Sunday afternoon and Kim volunteered, as well. Lea rode 275 laps in two hours, breaking a record. I guess she's kind of like me. When she sets her sights on something, she goes after it. I'm really proud of my girls. It was a great weekend for the Reese family.

April 13, 2010
Yes, Virginia, there is a bass tournament

I'm in Virginia this week for the Bassmaster Elite Series stop at Smith Mountain Lake — the Evan Williams Blue Ridge Brawl, as they call it.

The weather is great here. I've been wearing shorts since I arrived. We've been in the mid 70s for the most part, but I think that's about to change. Weather reports show that there will be a cooling trend for the next few days, and then it will warm up again. They're even reporting that it could be into the 80s by the end of the week.

Smith Mountain Lake has been pretty good to me overall the past few years. I've had some good finishes here. It's a fun lake to fish when it's on, but it can be a tough fishery as well, especially when the spawn is a part of the mix.

Smith Mountain has the potential to kick out some good bags. We've seen guys weigh 18- or 19-pound limits on one of the tournament days, but also weigh 7-pound limits during the same event. It's going to be important to stay open minded and fish hard this week.

It's likely that we'll be able to see a bunch of fish on the beds or cruising around the spawning areas, but that doesn't guarantee we'll catch them off the beds. The bass at Smith Mountain can be some of the toughest spawning fish to make bite, and I've been sight fishing for most of my life.

Clear Lake — my home lake — is famous for sight fishing being a major part of an angler's game plan in the spring, so you learn quickly to find ways to make them strike. There's a huge amount of pressure on spawning fish at Clear Lake, so being flexible is always a part of the game. It will be similar here.

The funny thing about the fish here is that you can find a good one on the nest one day and they're gone by the next. I'm going to have to put my trolling motor down and fish hard for eight hours every day.

But that's nothing new. There's not a day you can lay off on the Elite Series. These guys are too good. If you want to be standing on top at the end, you have to fish hard every day, make good decisions and execute flawlessly.

I'll practice hard, find my game plan and go after it. I've got my goals, and they are always on my mind.

Speaking of goals, my oldest daughter Lea called me from home today, and she's getting ready for her Jog-a-Thon at school. The kids take pledges from family and friends to raise money for school activities. Usually the pledges are some sort of dollar amount for each lap they run.

Last year she ran 18 laps, and she told me she plans on running more because she wants me to make a big donation. I hope she does. I had a great time at home with Kim and the girls between tournaments. They make me smile, and I'll be home again soon — hopefully with a bigger lead in the AOY standings.

April 6, 2010
D&R and Easter with the girls

I made a whirlwind trip to Kalamazoo, Mich., last week to make an appearance at D&R Sports for their Spring Fishing Days.

Randy VanDam continues to do a great job with the store, the boat dealership and the service out of his shop. His spring event is always a big deal, and people fill the building to meet the pros and hear the seminars each day.

I flew in on Thursday and was met at the airport by Kevin VanDam; he picked me up in his boat and truck and we got to do a little bit of fun fishing for the afternoon. We both talked about how infrequently we get to relax and have a good time on the water without thinking of how the next cast is all about a victory or the Angler of the Year title.

About an hour in, Mark Zona came and joined us after he flew in from taping shows at JM Associates in Little Rock, Ark. About the time he showed up, though, it was over and it was time to go as it was nearing dark.

I got to the store early the next day and did my first seminar at 9:30 to a great crowd. Then Kevin did a seminar, and we started the whole thing over again in the afternoon, with my 2 p.m. session. Again, there was another huge crowd, which was amazing to me for a Friday.

A kind of a funny thing happened during one of my sessions; a guy in the crowd kept asking me questions about fishing a Scrounger head. I know some, but not as much as Aaron Martens. I suggested he come back and see Aaron because he was one of the scheduled attendees for Saturday.

Then I flew home and got ready for Easter with Lea and Courtney. For us, Easter started on Saturday, as we took the girls to a community Easter egg hunt in a little town near us called Meadow Vista. The park there was divided into three sections for the individual age groups, and it was funny to see how my girls responded to the day.

I spent most of the hunt with Courtney, my youngest. She started out OK but soon gathered what she thought was an appropriate number of eggs and announced she was done. When I counted her basket, and she only had six, I encouraged her to keep searching because there were more to get. When she resumed the hunt, all she was interested in were the purple ones.

Contrast that experience with Lea, and the picture is much different. She was running as fast as she could, mowing through the grass in search of as many as possible. I bet she missed more than she found. The whole day was fun. The girls are a never-ending source of entertainment for me and Kim.

We woke up Easter morning to a cold front that brought cold air and winds from the north. However, the Easter bunny managed to deliver the girls baskets, and by the time we went through those and had our own little backyard egg hunt, I think the girls were high as a kite on sugar with about 10 pounds of it left to go.

I think it's time to ground them from sugar for a while.

March 30, 2010
On 'Parade'

I know I talked a little in the past about the Parade magazine article that appeared in newspapers across the country the Sunday we were at the Delta. I only recently got a chance to read it, and I have to say thank you to Harlan Coben for including me in it.

First of all, from a business perspective, it was amazing to see the sport of bass fishing exposed to the 72 million weekly readers of Parade. You never know how many of those readers are going to be exposed to bass fishing for the first time.

One or more of those readers may have seen the way that Harlan, a newcomer to the sport himself, explained the athleticism, focus and passion of bass fishing to the world. One of those readers might be a person who is a decision maker for a company who could be the next big partner for the sport.

For me personally, I'm proud to be the main character in the piece. Since the postseason, Harlan has become a good friend and that has meant the world to me. His talent as a writer showed how much detail he could fit into a small amount of space. It was a real honor to be in that article.

Changing topics, I leave this Thursday for a whirlwind trip and an appearance at D&R Sports in Kalamazoo, Mich., for their Spring Fishing & Boat Show. Randy VanDam (Kevin's brother) runs one of the premier boat shops in the country.

Each spring, D&R pulls together a great group of speakers and puts on a great show for all of their loyal customers in Kalamazoo. Kevin will be there, as will his nephew Jonathon and a few other anglers. Along with the boat shop, Randy's got a great tackle store there, and it's always fun to see what he has on the walls.

I'll probably get a chance to hang out with Kevin and his family a little bit while I'm there. They're good people and I always look forward to that.

I'm hoping that I'll also get a chance to hang out with Mark Zona while I'm there. Zona is so much fun to hang out with; you never know what is going to happen when he's around. I know that we'll always laugh when he's there. I'm looking forward to the trip.

I'm also starting to think about Smith Mountain Lake, our next tournament stop. Kevin won there last year by sightfishing, and it seems that looking at bedded fish always plays a role there. I'm not sure how much of a role it will play this year. It seems that the lakes everywhere are a little bit off of their normal cycles with the weather we've been having.

I know we'll all be hard at work figuring them out, no matter what they're doing. I'm looking forward to getting back to business in a couple of weeks. I'll be looking to build on the points foundation I gained on the Western swing.

March 23, 2010
A good start

Before I get too far, I want to say congratulations to Byron Velvick for his win at Clear Lake. He really showed all of us what swimbaits could do in tournaments 10 years ago when he won the California Invitational at Clear Lake; now he has done it again

He picked an area, fished it hard all four days and came away with his first Elite Series win. Once again, swimbaits were Byron's weapon, and he used them with precision.

Well, the West Coast Swing is behind us, and I can say that I am happy with the results... overall.

While the Delta was frustrating — losing by 1 ounce really sucks — with that finish and the fifth place at Clear Lake, I am in the position I wanted to be in.

I've said it many times before, Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year is the goal. I am thankful and thrilled to have the lead leaving the Western events.

As far as the fishing at Clear Lake goes, it took me a little while to find out exactly what Clear Lake's big bass were doing, but once I did, I was able to put together a pretty good finish.

I took the conditions into consideration and did what I thought would win the tournament. I ran as many docks as I could in the day with swimbaits. It produced decent weights, but not exactly what I would consider great for Clear Lake.

I threw a variety of swimmers, in different sizes, from 5 to 9 inches. On the smaller baits, I used my Wright & McGill 7-foot, 6-inch Swimbait/Carolina Rig rod; and for the larger ones, I used my 8-foot Flippin' and Pitchin' model. My reels were spooled with 20- and 25-pound-test Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon line, depending on the size of the bait.

I did catch a couple of fish in the afternoon on the second day with a Berkley Heavyweight Worm, but that was when my dock running efforts didn't produce a limit, and I had to scramble. Late in the day on Saturday, I made a pass through a creek and caught a 7- and a 5-pounder, and that gave me the clue I needed to figure them out.

I spent all day Sunday running creeks with swimbaits and put together the 25-pound limit I had been looking for all along and was able to move up to fifth place. I really wanted to string together four big days and win, but if I get enough high finishes, I'll reach my goal of Angler of the Year.

I've got a little bit of maintenance to do on the boat after two hard-running events, but that is standard operating procedure. Along with the upkeep, I will go through my tackle and back stock to make sure everything is fully stocked before we head to Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia.

The season is just getting started and it's starting out how I wanted it to; I'll take a few more finishes like the West Coast Swing if it adds up to an AOY title.

March 16, 2010
Second... again

I had a good tournament on the California Delta, but not a great one.

First, let me say congratulations to John Crews. He did what it took to win, and it's a great feeling to win anything. But to win an Elite Series event is an amazing feeling. Great job, John.

I hate second place, especially in my home state. I've wanted to win a Bassmaster Tour level event in California since we started coming here so bad I can taste it.

I've had great finishes but the win just keeps eluding me.

In five Tour level events on the Delta and Clear Lake, I've had a fifth, two fourths and two second place finishes. I'm ready to break through. This one was tough because it was only by an ounce. That's so close that it's hardly even something you would feel in your hand. It's one shad... or less.

I lost a couple of fish on Sunday that could have hurt me, but they were only on for a couple of seconds, so I don't know how big they were for sure. That's fishing.

On the Delta, I spent most of my time flipping. My Wright & McGill Co. Flippin' and Pitchin' rod got a workout. I flipped a black and blue Berkley PowerBait Chigger Craw, a black and red creature bait and a green pumpkin Chatterbait.

I spent most of my time in the South Delta, which is where most of the guys who did well were. I even spent some time in an area I haven't fished for 10 years or more. I flipped matted grass and threw the Chatterbait around the sparse grass clumps between flipping areas. The pattern produced more than 72 pounds in four days for me. I needed 2 more ounces.

I was a little surprised with the weights that the Delta produced. It was a tougher bite than I thought it would be. When I weighed in on Thursday with 15 pounds, I figured I would be on the south end of the standings, but it put me in 11th place. I can't remember the last time a March tournament in the Delta didn't require 20 pounds a day to get a check.

I went home Sunday night after the weigh-in for the Delta, slept in my own bed, and saw my girls off to school before heading to Clear Lake. Things have been so busy since the Classic that I just wanted some time at home before getting started again. It was a great little break.

Oh well, I've got no time to worry about Sunday because Clear Lake is already here. I've got to get back to work and figure out how to get over the hump again in California.

Clear Lake is my favorite lake — the one I started my competitive career on, and I can't wait to get started. I've got my thoughts as to what will be happening on the lake, but I won't know for sure until I put the boat on the water.

One thing I know is that the first step has been made, and Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year is still the goal. It wasn't a perfect step, but a good one. Now it's time to take step number two.

March 9, 2010
Pre-Delta appearances

The Elite Series season opener is only a couple of days away, and I can't wait.

We started our trip to California with a lot of the anglers making appearances at tackle stores all over the area. I started my day Saturday at Bass Pro Shops in Manteca; I did a seminar and autograph signing there and spent about five hours total at the outdoor superstore.

I got to see a bunch of people that I hadn't seen in a long time, and that is always a great experience. Seeing old friends who were a part of my early career, who know where I started, and see where I am now is a reminder of how hard I had to work to get here. It also reminds me to keep pushing, because there is more that I want to accomplish.

After Bass Pro Shops, I went over to Fisherman's Warehouse, also in Manteca. I found out when I arrived that there were some people who came to meet me who had been there all day. I felt bad that they didn't know I was only making a brief stop there after Bass Pro but was amazed that they stayed around when they found out — I really appreciated that.

I was really proud to see that my Tessera rods sold pretty well at both places. Wright & McGill Co. and I worked really hard to get them right, and the dealers and consumers have responded to them. This past weekend was no different, and it made me proud.

Fisherman's Warehouse also brought in my new Lucky Craft colors, and anglers responded to those as well. I've tried to come up with bait colors that are different, and Lucky Craft has really helped me explore those options.

After Fisherman's Warehouse, I went to the Stockton Arena to drop the puck at the Stockton Thunder's game on Saturday night. Don Miller, the Stockton Sports Commissioner asked me to come that night. They announced me as the 2009 Bassmaster Classic champion, and I walked out onto the carpet between the two teams, and dropped the puck.

It was fun to get to do that, and quite a few of the Thunder's fans clapped and yelled my name; you can always count on Stockton to turn out a few bass anglers. That's not surprising, as the arena is right next to the takeoff site for the TroKar Duel in the Delta. After leaving the ice, I went up to the hospitality suite and ate dinner.

The following day meant meetings and boat inspections at the boat yard. The meetings were at the arena again, and it was kind of funny, because there was a concert that night, and the whole time we were in the meeting, a band named Sick Puppies was rehearsing. It was really interesting to try and listen over the music but we got through it.

I talked awhile ago about there being an article coming in Parade Magazine, and Sunday, March 14 is that day. I got a sneak peak at the cover photo, and it is a cool photo. I haven't read the article, because Harlan Coben wouldn't let me see it; oh well, how do you argue with a New York Times bestselling author?

I'm really excited because Parade goes out to more than 30 million readers in Sunday newspapers all over the country. You can't buy that amount of exposure. I'm grateful to Harlan and Parade for the opportunity; it should be great for the sport of bass fishing.

March 2, 2010
Classic Expo and more

I told you last time that I'd talk a little bit about the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by Dick's Sporting Goods this week.

Short of being on the water trying to win the Classic again, the Classic Outdoors Expo was the place to be in Birmingham. Don't get me wrong, I wanted to be out there on Lay Lake but it was great for me to see what goes on at the show.

I got to work with a lot of media, worked for my sponsors and signed autographs in my booth for a couple of hours, and all of it was very productive.

There were people everywhere. Alabama is the birthplace of BASS, and the fishing fans really turn out to events like the Classic; this year was no exception. I had my own Skeet Reese Inc. booth there, as did Wright & McGill Co., Pure Fishing, and Wiley X Sunglasses.

I spent time in all of their booths, as much as I could anyway. I started in Pure Fishing, then went to my booth for a two-hour autograph session, where the line was long, full of fans and, most importantly, kids.

After that, I spent time at Wright & McGill, TroKar and then Wiley X. People came into all of those booths and lined up for autographs. It was amazing to see how many people were at the show, and how much product they were purchasing.

Wright & McGill did a promotion with my rods for the show. Anyone who bought one of my signature Tessera Rods got a dye sublimated mock Skeet Reese jersey, and there must have been a couple hundred of those around on Sunday. It was fun to see all of the yellow and black shirts running around.

Somebody had an idea to have several of them gather around me and take a photo, kind of like that old "Where's Waldo?" character; only it was a yellow and black jersey instead of the red and white stripes.

It had been almost 12 years since I last worked the consumer show at the Classic; and while I wasn't thrilled with being there on Sunday, it wasn't long before I was excited to be there with the fans.

Now that the Classic is over, I've turned my attention to the start of the 2010 Bassmaster Elite Series. I'm ready to get the year underway, and I'm excited that it's starting on my home waters — the California Delta and Clear Lake.

I'm back in the workout routine, spending as much time getting physically prepared as I can. I've done some business, and we took part in a fundraiser for the girls' school. The state has been cutting back on budgets, so the Placer Hills Education Foundation got people together to help raise money.

I donated a fishing trip, a few rods and some t-shirts to the cause. It was a great night, and altogether, something like $46,000 was raised for school programs.

Kim and I also took the girls to the snow for a little tubing; it's always cool to see them having so much fun.

I'm ready to tackle another season, ready to try and improve on last year. As always, the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title is the goal. It's only a week away from getting back to work.

Feb. 23, 2010
Congratulations are in order

Well, the 2010 Bassmaster Classic is over, and there was a group of anglers who figured out an area that ended up putting some healthy distance between themselves and the rest of us. Being one of those "other guys" this year, I wanted to offer my congratulations to those who did well, and made it a great event.

KVD put together a great program and was able to start big, finish big, and win his third Bassmaster Classic title. We've all watched as he built a career that will likely end with him being ranked as the best angler ever — if he isn't already. This win certainly did nothing but add to his legacy; he keeps raising the bar.

Congratulations Kevin on a great win.

Jeff Kriet also did an amazing job; and although I know it didn't end in the way he wanted, he did a lot for himself, his sponsors and his career this week.

I've been in Jeff's position — on Lay Lake in 2007 when Boyd Duckett won his Classic — and the feeling is devastating. To finish 2nd in a Classic is gut wrenching. You put together a pattern that brings you so close to a championship like that, and you can't help but feel disappointed.

But, Kriet, you need to hold your head high; you did a lot for yourself this week. Your easy manner, your little bit of country humor, and the professional manner that you showed this week — on and off the water — earned you fans, respect and gained a ton of exposure for your sponsors. This will make you a better angler going forward; you did a great job.

Todd Faircloth is a great guy, and I know he was also disappointed after the event. Todd is one of the true "good guys" on tour, and it's hard to see one of those guys get beaten. You always want the good guys to win.

Like I said to Kriet, this will make Todd a better angler in the long run; I fully expect to see him holding the trophy someday.

Russ Lane certainly made his presence felt this week, as well. It really added to the excitement to see an Alabama local favorite in the mix. The city of Birmingham and the whole state of Alabama really got behind Russ, and it made for a better environment, a better show. Judging from his reaction on stage, I think he thought his bag was bigger on the final day, but he did a great job.

I also want to congratulate my Wright & McGill teammate Brent Chapman for a great tournament. Brent put himself in the mix and gave himself a shot at the title. Brent just recently started fishing my rods, and it was great to see him wave the yellow and black rods in the camera. I didn't do it, so I am glad Brent performed so well.

What can you say about Ike? He's always a strong competitor; and when he's in contention, it makes for a better tournament. He did a great job and figured out something different around the same area — good job, Mike!

Congratulations to all of the high finishers. While it didn't go anywhere near what I wanted for myself personally, it was a great week for the sport of bass fishing.

I'll talk a little about the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by Dick's Sporting Goods next time; that was also great for the industry.

Feb. 21, 2010
Thank you everyone

My dream of becoming a repeat winner of the Bassmaster Classic is over.

Walking away from the tournament having missed the cut was not what I had in mind at all, but I don't want to dwell on that.

I want to say thank you.

I never knew how many people across the country had become fans of mine. I knew that I had fans on the West coast, but to find out how many people have become fans during my year as Classic Champ is completely humbling.

Being here at Lay Lake as the defending champion has been very rewarding to me as a person. I had so many people come up to me and tell me that they were rooting for me. I heard from people every day about how much my winning the Classic meant to them, and I can't express how much all of the outpouring of love and support means to me.

From a career standpoint, winning the Classic was amazing, but to have the kind of comments — from perfect strangers — is gratifying in an entirely different and perhaps even more personal way.

It's weird to think of how far my career has come, the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year and Bassmaster Classic titles are the ultimate goal of all of us who compete on the Elite Series. But we all started somewhere else.

For me, it was the golf course and college ponds near my home in Rohnert Park that began my love for fishing and fueled my dream of doing what I do for a living. While I realize the titles are there, they were won in the heat of competition, but at times I still feel like that kid who started fishing so many years ago.

I was that California Kid who wanted to follow in the footsteps of those who I'd read about in magazines, and now here I am; fishing for a living. But without the love and support of family, friends and fans, it wouldn't be so sweet.

As the Classic drew nearer, I started getting messages through my Web site (skeetreeseinc.com) wishing me well in the tournament. People were taking the time to send me a message telling me how much it meant to them; it was an amazing feeling.

The whole week had so many things that were so cool, from people stopping me to say hi, to seeing my Classic Championship banner raised into the rafters — it was a week I'll not soon forget.

I just wanted to make sure to say thank you to all of the people who took time to include "Team Reese" in their lives. The fans are the driving force behind this sport, and without you, it wouldn't be what it is.

I will turn my attention now to planning for the start of the 2010 Elite Series season, and trying to make next season one you can all be proud of.

Thank you for everything — it makes me want to do it again!

Feb. 19, 2010
Unveiling the Classic banner

While the first day of the 2010 Bassmaster Classic didn't go as I had wanted it to, I had an amazing experience that I will never forget.

They unveiled my Classic banner to commemorate my winning of the 2009 Bassmaster Classic at the Red River — it was an amazing feeling.

The producers of the event for BASS set it up so I could do a full lap of the arena floor. Normally, when you enter the Classic arena you make a right turn as you pull onto the floor and stop at the stage. But, instead of making the right turn, the driver pulled to the left and began a slow lap around the floor in the opposite direction.

It was a little weird to go the other direction at first, but once I started hearing all of the fans in the arena begin to cheer for me, I quickly forgot about the oddity of the moment.

Before pulling into the arena, I couldn't imagine how it would feel to have the fans cheering like they did when they announced my name. It was an absolutely humbling, awesome and emotional experience. We work so hard to do well on the water, and to build a connection with the fans of the sport of bass fishing that, when I get a chance to experience their excitement and appreciation, it really moves me.

Winning the Classic last year was such an emotional experience. It was a goal I'd always wanted to achieve, to have come so close in 2007, then to win it after my Angler of the Year title really made me feel like I'd reached a level I've wanted for my career.

To hear the fans' response created a sense of validation that they see me in a way I'd always wanted them to see me — as a champion. I can't begin to tell you how much that meant to me; we have the greatest fans in the world, and their support means the world to me.

After the slow crawl around the arena floor, I finally got to the stage and Bassmaster Emcee Keith Alan started talking about all the year and really digging at my heart strings. I was really struggling to keep it together at that point.

When he finally had me look to the rafters above the stage, and that banner unrolled with my name on it, the year and Red River, Louisiana on the blue and gold banner; I almost lost it.

To see my name next to the greats of our sport means so much to me. It means that my name will forever be etched in history as a champion. It also means that my name will be forever placed in the same category as anglers I've looked up to my whole life.

The banner ceremony was one of those unbelievably cool moments that I've been fortunate enough to experience. Everyone dreams of reaching the peak of success when they start this career, but to have been as fortunate as I've been to experience it is amazing.

It makes me want to do it again now more than ever.

Feb. 18, 2010
Media Day, then game day

Thursday at the Bassmaster Classic is Media Day.

For many of you, the concept of a media gathering like this may be somewhat foreign. The idea of having as many as 200 media from print, television, radio and Internet, working a room with the 51 competitors may be a bit much. For me, it is a chance to do my job for my sponsors, and I look forward to it each year.

The first time I was a Classic competitor, the hype surrounding the tournament was a little intimidating. But this is my 11th trip to this tournament, so not only is it one of the functions of being here, but it is a chance to get a lot of work done.

I worked with a lot of different media during the 3-hour session. I did television spots, gave interviews for articles, posed for pictures, and even listened to people who pitched ideas to me. Some of the discussions I had were not only about the Classic; some writers use this as an opportunity to get material for articles throughout the year.

All of this is good, it works well for everyone. They get material for future pieces, and I get to use the time to drive exposure for my sponsors. It's a part of the job that I take very seriously; and when given an opportunity like this, I want to make the most of it.

A lot of the questions that I answered today centered around being the defending champion and the thought of repeating. If I said it wasn't on my mind, I wouldn't be truthful. I most certainly do think about repeating as the Classic champion — it would be awesome.

However, trying to repeat is not my primary focus; it is simply the thought of winning the tournament. This is the biggest tournament of the year, our Super Bowl or Daytona 500, and I just think about putting the pieces together in hopes of winning. If that means repeating as champion, I'll be happy to be a part of history.

While I'm happy to be doing all of this work leading up to the tournament, I'll be looking forward to getting down to the business of fishing tomorrow. We're all here to be a part of the event, but when it comes down to it, the actual tournament is what the anglers look forward to.

Once that boat is in the water, I can start getting myself into competition mode. Sure, there will be more media engagements to fulfill for ESPN as the defending champion, but I can start putting the other stuff in its place. Then, once they call my name, and that big Mercury starts chewing up the water, I can let it all fade to the background, 'cause it's all about the fishing.

I have a game plan; if it will be the one I need to win, I won't know until tomorrow. I believe that a flippin' stick and an LV 500 lipless crankbait are going to be the best ways to catch the fish needed to win, but we'll find out soon enough.

I'm fairly relaxed heading into the competition, but looking forward to getting to work — it's time to get it on.

Feb. 18, 2010
No more practice

I talked yesterday about having our last practice day, which we did, and while I learned some things, I still don't feel like I have it dialed in. But that doesn't have me altogether uncomfortable.

Being that this is Bassmaster Classic, and I am going for a repeat win, I would love to say that I have the right fish figured out, and that I feel totally confident in what I've discovered. Despite the fact that I'm still in the processing mode after four days of practice, I know I can still pull it together.

Last year at this time I was in kind of the same situation. I knew basically what I was going to do, but didn't know exactly what my game plan was going to be. Last year, I decided to maximize my fishing time by staying in the pool we launched in. My initial thought in the Red River was to not take myself out of it by wasting time with locking.

Part of our practice strategy as tournament anglers is to identify unproductive areas of the lake; we call it eliminating water. While it may seem to be a negative concept, it is entirely a positive thing from a planning standpoint. Knowing the areas in the lake that I won't be fishing during a tournament helps me from an efficiency standpoint.

Unfortunately, I've totally eliminated the upriver area where I caught the fish that helped me in the 2007 Classic. The year Boyd Duckett won, I was fishing spotted bass around the current breaks, but those areas didn't produce for me in practice.

I've decided to focus on some of the smaller features of Lay Lake. But, while I feel like I've narrowed down my areas and have some starting points for some productive patterns, I still don't believe I've dialed in the winning fish. However, like last year, I will be figuring things out as the tournament goes on, and I just need to put enough together to keep myself in the hunt to strike in the end.

My goal in starting the 2010 Bassmaster Classic was to win and it still is; I've not changed that focus one bit. I will have to stay light on my feet and keep my thinking cap on while I'm fishing. I'll keep pushing, hoping I can put enough weight together to get through to Sunday and still have a chance to be in position to win.

On another note, Friday is going to be emotional and exciting for me at the same time. They will be raising my Classic banner into the rafters with those who have won the tournament before me. While it means my year as Classic Champion is almost at a close, it also means that my name will have a place in Bassmaster history forever, along with anglers I've looked up to my entire life.

I'm also looking forward to hearing the crowds cheering as we enter the arena. Alabamans are crazy about their bass fishing, and it should be a great time. With seeing the banner raised and the crowds going crazy, it is sure to be a great atmosphere. It is going to be a chilling and emotional experience.

Don't be surprised to see me get choked up.

Feb. 17, 2010
Still deciding

By the time you read this, I'll be on the water at Lay Lake for our "Official Practice Day." I'll be honest; I'm still going to be in the process of making my decisions about what my patterns will be when we start the Classic on Friday Morning.

Looking back at my three-day pre-practice, I haven't been able to identify the area, or the lures, that I will count on in the tournament. I do think it will likely take somewhat of a mix of spotted bass and largemouth to win; but beyond that, I've still got an open mind.

Wednesday is my last day to get any input from the lake before the tournament begins; my last chance to decide if I'm going to run up the creeks or stay on the main lake. Am I going to fish fast, or will I have to slow down? This will be the last set of clues I'll get before we launch our boats toward a date with destiny.

The rains and snow have made the water high and dirty, and the continued pumping of the water through the dams is not doing anything to help change those conditions. If they slow down the flows, the water will clear; if they keep it going, the water stays cloudy.

What I do know is that just about every bass in this lake saw a lipless crankbait in the pre-practice period. That's pretty typical for cold, dirty water in a late winter fishery. With that in mind, I will be looking to take advantage of what I can, while looking for something else that will give me an advantage.

Most of the chatter after the pre-practice period was that most of the competitors will be in the creeks because that is where the clearer water is. I know that there will be a tremendous amount of pressure on those fish, and while this lake normally produces a lot of action, it has been different because of the conditions.

My goal will be to find the kind of pattern that will produce the kind of weights that can win the Classic. While most of the early predictions have been for a slow bite; things will change as the week continues. The conditions will change, and that will mean being able to think on the fly. Weather reports are calling for a warming trend to come through later in the week, so that should have a positive effect on the fish.

If that happens, the downside of the dirty water could reverse, as the sun will warm up the water, and the fish could get a little bit more active.

All of that to say that I haven't finalized anything yet. I spent today tweaking my tackle in the service yard, and while I have 17 to 20 of my signature Wright & McGill Rods at the ready for tomorrow, I'll have it narrowed down to just a few on Friday morning.

It will be a tough tournament, but the conditions are the same for everyone, and these types of tournaments give everyone a chance to win. Make the right decisions, adjust quickly and efficiently, and you give yourself a chance.

I've got one more day to gather data, then a little while to analyze it through Media Day on Thursday before we get down to the business of fishing.

Feb. 16, 2010
Let the games begin

Birmingham, Ala. — The 2010 Bassmaster Classic is here!

I can't believe it was a year ago that I held that trophy over my head in Shreveport. The pictures still race through my head every time I think about it. I can still remember knowing that we were in the middle of a packed arena as I started celebrating, seeing the fans cheering, and not hearing a thing.

It was like all of the sound waves in the building were placed on mute, and the only thing I could hear was the sound of my own voice in my own celebration. Then I saw Kim and the girls come up on stage and into my boat. What a day that was, I'll never forget it.

But, as great a memory as the 2009 Classic was, it's time to get down to business. I have to admit that I want to win it again. I know the feeling of winning the biggest single tournament we have in this sport, and it's addicting.

I also want to do something historical. There's only been one person to win the Classic in consecutive years, and that is my inspiration, Rick Clunn. As much as I respect Rick, and acknowledge the fact that I'm not him, I can't think of a better way to honor his career than to go back to back and share that with him.

So, with that in mind, I'll turn my attention to the fishing at Lay Lake — the focus of the bass fishing world this week.

It's brutally cold out there — I'm talking the kind of cold that freezes the breath as it comes out of your mouth and nose. It has been so cold out there on the lake that I had 3 inches of snow piled on the deck of my boat on Friday's practice day, and while the conditions weren't quite that bad the other two days, they were bad enough.

I had on just about every item I could think of to try and stay warm. Long johns layered with fleece, wool, cotton, heavy jackets, gloves and everything else I could think of, and it was still cold.

The fishing was tough, too. When it gets that way, you start counting bites instead of pounds and ounces in practice. I've talked to some of the competitors who live around here who say they've never fished when it's been this cold.

I'm not the only one who's saying the bite is tough; there are a lot of the other guys who are talking about slow fishing. Everyone will have decisions to make; main lake, creeks, upriver, spotted bass or largemouth. Right now, it's still up in the air.

We've got one more practice day to put our thoughts together and make a game plan that could be the difference between champion of the world and first through 50th losers. It's an all or nothing deal here; I've been on both sides of it, and know the feelings well.

I'll be doing my best to let you share in those feelings this week, because I'll be doing a daily blog here on Bassmaster.com, as well as a daily video diary on my Web site, skeetreeseinc.com.

One thing is for sure, on Sunday, someone will have figured them out well enough to hold that trophy overhead as the fireworks and confetti fly — I'll do everything I can to have it be me again.

Feb. 9, 2010
Kim's perspective

Hey everyone, it's Kim Reese.

It has been a wild year for us. It all started with Skeet winning the Classic, which brought a ton of rewards and a few challenges, too. The season started out great, but ended bittersweet, but it made Skeet work even harder, and me be more supportive.

Winning the Bassmaster Classic last year was a dream come true, for both of us. For Skeet, it was validation of a lot of planning, dreaming and tireless effort. For me, it was seeing him achieve a goal that he'd wanted, come so close to in 2007, and something he felt might be out of reach.

As his weight was called in Shreveport, and he started celebrating, I was struggling to keep it together. I was standing there holding Courtney, with Lea at my side trying not to cry; I was so happy for my husband. Once they took us on stage, I didn't care what anybody thought, I was going to scream and yell with him. Even with 17,000 fans around, that was our moment.

Last season had lofty goals — trying to be the second angler to win the Classic and Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year in the same season. The way it ended put new motivation into his preparation for the 2010 season.

I didn't know he could work harder than he already did.

Skeet has dug in even harder this offseason; his focus has become even tighter. I think the reason is because he doesn't give himself enough credit for being as good as he is. I think sometimes he looks at anglers around him, especially those he looks up to, and minimizes his own worth.

The truth is, Skeet didn't have an easy time making his dreams come true. His is a story of perseverance, one of making it happen against all the odds. He didn't have an easy life; he expects hard knocks and sees them as what was supposed to happen. But he keeps pushing.

There were so many things about this year that brought so much confirmation to his career, both on and off the water. His deal with Wright & McGill has been especially fulfilling because he'd wanted to do a rod deal like that for years. The rods have performed well; that success has proved his influence and value.

I'm not going to tell you that it has all been like floating on a cloud. Being the wife of a professional angler is not easy. I'm alone with the girls a lot because of his travel schedule, but I was also uniquely prepared for it. My father is a professional touring musician. My mom is a great role model for me in that aspect.

I find my joy in being here for him and the girls, helping and supporting him. Running Skeet Reese Inc. is demanding and provides a little extra challenge for me. I run the booth at the Classic, which is gratifying for me, because it is a way to show how much I support and stand behind him.

In my eyes, Skeet is a deserving champion, a skillful and trendsetting businessman. As a father and husband, he is loving and supportive. He's a good man. I am proud of him, no matter how it ends.

So, as the Classic approaches again, I am filled with confidence and peace that my husband will do very well, because it is what he does.

No matter how it ends, he'll be our Skeet.

Feb. 2, 2010
Getting ready to leave

It's only a couple of weeks until the Classic, and I've spent a bunch of time getting ready to go to Lay Lake and beyond. Now the Lucky Craft/PowerBait Big Rig is all wrapped in yellow and black, packed and ready to start another season doing what I love.

When I return home at the end of a season, I start by unloading everything from the boat and truck into the garage. Then, as time allows, I start going through it all, which usually means I do it all in one week in the last month before it's time to leave for the year.

Getting ready for the season is always a long process. I have to inventory all of my product, reload, order stuff from my sponsors, and I have to do it for a whole season. Once my rig leaves California, I don't have the luxury of swinging by the house and picking something up between tournaments.

This year could have been different, with our first two events being on the Delta and Clear Lake, near my Northern California home. I could have packed for the Classic only, but I wanted to stay with my routine.

I did find out something new while getting everything ready to go; Berkley PowerBait doesn't respond well to moisture.

Apparently, two of my storage trays got a bunch of water in them at some point towards the end of the season. When I opened those two boxes, which at one point contained black and green pumpkin Power Worms, I was greeted by a less than pleasant sight.

The worms had turned some sort of a puffy, nasty color and also turned into a moldy mess of plastic. To be perfectly honest, it looked more like fake pieces of plastic cat poop that you might leave on the floor as a practical joke than it did a pile of worms — it was disgusting. I had to throw the whole of those two trays away and start over with plastic worm storage.

In between getting ready for the road, we also planned my oldest daughter Lea's seven-year-old birthday party. It was a lot of fun; we even brought in a local dance teacher to teach the girls a dance routine. They all learned a new hip-hop dance and performed it for us. I can't believe my little girl is seven already.

During the postseason last year, I had New York Times Best Selling author Harlan Coben in the boat with me. He was on assignment for Parade Magazine, one of the largest publications in the country. Parade is syndicated every week to around 34 million homes in distribution through several Sunday newspapers.

Harlan was there to cover the events as they unfolded, and the result of his trip was that he was going to be doing a feature story about the postseason. I've come to find out that not only am I going to be a major component of the story, but I will also supposedly be the cover photo in the next couple of weeks.

It's an honor to have heard that I would be going out to that many readers and right around the Classic — pretty cool.

Jan. 26, 2010
This job rocks

Sometimes I get a reminder of how cool my job is, and I had one of those things happen this week.

I had a flashback to 2007, the year I won the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title. I got a special prize from a friend who is a schoolteacher at Buljan Middle School in Roseville, Calif., approximately 20 minutes from my house. I got an electric guitar shaped like a bass for winning the AOY Title.

I don't play the guitar, but Duane Calkins is the wood shop teacher there, as well as a bass angler. A few years ago Duane started a special program for 7th through 12th grade students called Wood Shop Rocks (www.woodshoprocks.com). Duane and his students build custom guitars, and, coupled with a local music retailer, Skip's Music, in Sacramento, Calif., they teach kids to use their hands, manage a project and even how to play the instrument.

The goal of the program is to get kids interested in something that makes them want to come to school. Like sports, it is an extracurricular activity that requires minimum standards to be met if a student wants to participate. It works! Grades and attendance are up, and some of the kids are taking their lessons to the point where they are forming bands and even writing their own music.

Anyway, Duane called me down to the school, so I showed up to the classroom last Friday to meet some of the students and get a second guitar in honor of winning the Bassmaster Classic. This one was a cool heavy metal styled guitar, and it was painted all yellow — a perfect match for me.

Duane arranged for three of the kids to actually play the guitar they'd all built for me. So, they hooked it up to the amplifier in Duane's classroom, and proceeded to wail away on it. They were all really talented, and the scary thing is that they were all 13 years old. One of them has even started a band called Mullet for my Valentine, and won a battle of the bands contest with their own original music.

I put a video on my Web site (www.skeetreeseinc.com) of those kids playing for me, as well as Duane telling about the program. Because Wood Shop Rocks is an after school program, it relies on donations to fund itself, and they could all use our help. They are in six schools right now. Check them out. It's an amazing program.

Speaking of my Web site, we just spent the better part of two weeks updating the look of it. There's a lot that goes into it, even though I didn't do the actual computer work. I got a sense for what the Bassmaster.com Web team goes through.

Along with the Web site work, I worked with several other projects including finalizing my 2010 wrap. I am proud to announce that the manufacturers who made the products I used to win the Classic last year — Lucky Craft and Berkley — have stepped up as co-title sponsors for the season.

So I'm finishing up packing the Lucky Craft/PowerBait Big Rig to head east for the season.

The Classic is approaching, and I've got some business to settle with Lay Lake.

Jan. 19, 2010
Au Revoir, Paris

I spent most of last week in Paris working a show for Lowrance Electronics, and the whole thing was pretty cool.

Traveling overseas is always a challenge, and it makes for some long days when you're working a show. The 20-hour flight to Paris, and the nine-hour time difference left me dragging pretty badly.

In spite of the travel difficulties, the trip was worth it.

I was the first American professional angler to attend one of their shows, and for the 25,000 people who attended the two day show, it was kind of a confirmation of the growth that bass fishing has made in the last several years. Fishing is still somewhat of an "Elitist" sport over there, so I won't be surprised to see it grow much bigger than it is now.

They have tournaments over there, but they are different than ours. The main reason is because the bass population is not that large, so their tournaments include several different species. Anglers can catch other species and include them in their daily catches. They also have divisions for each species and for overall weight of catches.

One of the highlights of the trip for me was getting to hand out the awards to the champions of their tournament trails, which was a lot of fun. I also got to do seminars, which was exciting, as well as a little challenging, considering that I had to work with a translator.

Lowrance brought someone to be my translator, but I think she was kind of new to it, so we never really got into a rhythm. I'd say one or two sentences and have to wait for her translation, and then we'd go on. I think we were able to get our points across in the end.

I thought the show was going to be split between freshwater and saltwater, but it was all fresh. They had all of the latest bass gear, and the cost of the carp fishing gear there blew my mind. Unlike here, where carp are viewed as a trash fish, over there they are a sport fish, and they go after them with the same fervor that we go after bass.

One of the interesting things I learned was that until five years ago, sonar units were not allowed on French waters. They thought of them as cheating. Now, instead of them having to go out there looking for the fish like blind men, they can use the advantages that Lowrance units afford them.

I was escorted by Greg Konig, vice president of Lowrance's new product division in Tulsa, Okla., and Jim Deheer, their marketing director for Europe. We enjoyed a bunch of great French cuisine, including cheeses and wines. Although, being a California native, I prefer our wines. Theirs were excellent, though.

The last night we were in town, we all went to dinner together after the show, and it was kind of funny that we were in France, with all of that great food, and we went for Chinese. Oh well, when in Rome — I mean Paris.

Au revoir, Paris, I'm glad I'm home. It's time to get ready for the Bassmaster Classic.

Jan. 12, 2010
Back to the grind

We got back from our vacation in Mexico, and my nose instantly hit the grindstone.

There's a lot to get ready, especially considering that the Bassmaster Classic is only a little over a month away.

This is the time of the year when some of our last minute contracts are being finalized, and boat and truck wraps are being applied. I went to drop the truck off at the shop of Corey Fenske at Sticky Graphics, who does my wrap, and the boat was finished. I must say it looks great. I can't wait to see the whole package put together.

Along with those final details, we're making plans for the Skeet Reese, Inc., booth at the Classic in Alabama. In planning for that, we've got to secure lodging for family and friends who will staff the booth and make sure the displays and merchandise are prepared for arrival in Birmingham.

We'll have some new stuff at my booth again this year, and that in itself requires extra attention. Anytime you are working on product of any kind, it requires a back and forth communication with the artists and the engineers — depending on the type of product — and that creates a whole new level of involvement.

I also have to finish putting all of my gear into the boat and big rig for the year. Because I live in California, I have to think about what I'll need for the whole year and pack it accordingly. It's not like I can swing by the house and pick up something I left in the garage as easily as some of my competitors.

Some of that will be a little easier this year because we are starting the Elite Series season in California, so I can focus on the Classic waters more and take care of the rest when I come back home after Lay Lake.

Along with all of that planning and strategizing, I'm getting on a plane tomorrow to make an appearance in Paris, France, for Lowrance. It will be a whirlwind trip, but I'm looking forward to it. I've never been there before.

I knew some of the nearby European countries have bass fishing, like Spain and Italy, but until this trip was planned, I didn't know they had anything other than pike and other cold water species in France. I'll get to share my experience with Lowrance Electronics with the anglers there.

The whole trip will take about four days, and about 21 hours of that will be on a plane. Even though there will be some jetlag issues to deal with, I'm excited about this little adventure. It should be fun.

When I get back, I'll be putting the final touches on my preparation for the Classic and the season, which will include some news and releases from SRI. I'm looking forward to being able to share that with the industry.

The New Year is here, and I'm looking forward to getting it all started.

Jan. 5, 2010
A special day

I had a very special day last week. I got to take my oldest daughter Lea out on her first saltwater fishing adventure.

While in Puerto Vallarta on vacation, I thought it would be fun to take her out on a father-daughter fishing trip. I booked the trip with our usual captain at www.marlasportfishing.com, not knowing if she would get sea sick. I figured a half-day trip would be a good starting point.

So Tuesday morning we got on the boat and headed out into Bandaras Bay. It didn't take long for the adventure to kick in to full gear when within 2 miles of the ramp we saw our first group of humpback whales. We stopped and watched the mother and her calf for about 10 minutes; Lea was beside herself with a giant smile on her face.

From there we went a couple more miles and the ocean suddenly turned white from tens of thousands of skipjack feeding on small sardines. We stopped and cast some little bait rigs at them, and within seconds I was hooked up. At this stop, Lea caught three or four skipjack before she got tired.

We continued out to the Marietta Islands to do some Rooster fishing. During the 10 miles it took to get there, we saw 10 to 12 more whales. We both enjoyed seeing them. Once we got to the Islands we had to catch the bait that catches the Roosters.

We trolled little sabiki rigs around until we caught 10 baits, then headed out to the Pacific side of the islands to catch the big ones. Once we got out there, I realized how big the swells were. My guess is that they were 12-15 feet! Not calm at all!

We got the live baits out and started to slow troll them over the shallow reefs. It didn't take long to hook the first one, I hooked the fish then handed Lea the rod. With the fighting belt on she went to work (with me helping a little). We were using the new Penn Torque reel with 30-pound-test Trilene Big Game line.

After about 15 minutes and Lea being wiped out, she landed her first rooster fish weighing in around 25 pounds. Let me remind you, Lea is six years old and only weighs 48 pounds, and blue water fish fight three times as hard as freshwater fish.

After the battle she went into the cabin to play on her video game while me and her "Papa" (Tom Coster) stayed on deck to catch some more. I caught the next one, which weighed around 40 pounds, then Tom hooked one that a Bull shark came up and ate. Things were fast and furious, and I was ready to catch some more when Lea came out from the cabin NOT feeling well.

After 45 minutes of fishing, we headed back in to the bay where it was much calmer, and she felt much better. So we decided to catch a few more skipjack before heading back to the marina.

Overall, it was a great adventure. I wish we could have stayed out to catch a few more fish but I got something more special than that.

I got to see my little girl having fun, and we created a memory that the two of us will share forever.