The winter offseason is usually a busy time for Bassmaster Elite Series pros. It's when they organize tackle, finalize contracts and boat wraps and prepare for next season. For Skeet Reese, this offseason included a special fishing trip.
It was all set in motion on May 29, when Philadelphia Phillies ace and eventual National League Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay threw a perfect game (allowing no baserunners) against the Florida Marlins. It was just the 20th perfect game in Major League Baseball history.
The Phillies wanted to commemorate the occasion by giving Halladay a gift. Because Halladay's favorite hobby is bass fishing, the Phillies contacted BASS and set up a trip for the pitcher to go fishing with Reese, the 2007 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year and 2009 Bassmaster Classic champion.
The outing was set for Nov. 28, and Halladay, his wife and their two sons traveled to Clear Lake, Calif., for a day on the water with Reese. They met the previous evening at the Ceago Winery in Nice on the shoreline of Clear Lake.
"Roy was quiet at first, but as the evening wore on, we talked about family, our careers and, of course, bass fishing," Reese said. "It was a great evening, and by the time dinner and wine tasting was over, I felt like we'd known each other for a while."
The next morning, the pair launched Reese's Stratos boat and ventured out onto an unseasonably cold Clear Lake. With air temperature in the low 30s and water temperature below 50 degrees, fishing was slow. Luckily, Reese's knowledge of the lake helped get things started.
With a few strikes coming on Lucky Craft LV-500s and Staysee 100s, the pair began to warm up. Later, they ventured back to the winery to pick up Halladay's sons for an afternoon of minnow fishing. The group shared two dozen minnows and some action for the afternoon.
"I was a little intimidated at first to get a chance to meet Skeet," Halladay said. "But it only took a few minutes to find out what a down-to-earth guy he is, and he made the whole day something I'll remember. The fishing wasn't great, but I learned a ton from him, and that made it even better.
"Skeet and I stuck with two or three things most of the day," the two-time Cy Young Award winner said. "I learned that making a lot of lure changes wasn't going to help me get bites. It's more important to find the fish and simplify my lure choices."
Reese was impressed with Halladay's prowess with a rod and reel.
"He has a bass boat at home, and you can tell he's serious about it," Reese said. "He was making roll casts all around the docks and even backhanded roll casts where needed. The day was a lot of fun."