Rick Clunn. If they gave out black belts in fishing, he’d have the blackest. No doubt.
But lately his fishing has been like watching Michael Jordan play for the Wizards. Just…not…there.
I say that with the greatest respect, and lucky for me he feels the same way, judging by a recent article in a KC, MO paper. Excerpts below, all quotes are Rick’s:
> This is the quote that stood out for me the most: â€œWhen I was at my peak, I would do anything to make it happen. I would use techniques that I didnâ€™t necessarily like if thatâ€™s what it took. I donâ€™t do that anymore.â€ [Why not Rick? We’d love to see you pull those huge stringers out of thin air again, man!]
> â€œIâ€™ve always made my career living by Robert Frostâ€™s words: â€˜Two roads diverge in the woods. I take the one less-traveled.’ I found success by taking the path less-traveled; doing something different than the other fishermen did. But thatâ€™s not as easy anymore. With the increased knowledge of todayâ€™s fishermen, they figure things out. And a lot of times you have to fish in a crowd if you want to compete. And I wonâ€™t do that. So, sometimes I pay the price.â€
> â€œPeople donâ€™t realize that the difference between where I was and where I am now is a razor edge. At this level, youâ€™re constantly walking the tightrope between greatness and mediocrity. I know I can still catch fish, and I can compete at a high level. But the bottom line is that I have to prove it.â€
> â€œBut you get down on yourself. Most athletesâ€™ toughest critic isnâ€™t the fans or the media, itâ€™s themselves. And thatâ€™s how it is with me. Confidence is a fragile thing. And sometimes, that affects me.â€
> â€œI came home from a tournament where I had struggled, and [his wife Melissa] had all my trophies out and on display. She told me, â€˜Every time you walk in here, I want you to think of who you are and what youâ€™ve accomplished.â€™â€‚â€
> He’s said this before: â€œMy dominance was always from early summer into early winter, and we donâ€™t have tournaments there anymore. But Iâ€™m not making excuses. You have to adapt. And you have to be motivated.
> â€œOnce, I was the very best at what I did. And itâ€™s hard to walk away from all of that.”
> â€œAs long as I launch my boat and Iâ€™m still intrigued by this mysterious puzzle, Iâ€™m going to fish. There are no two days alike in bass fishing, and thatâ€™s what fascinates me. I still feel that I can compete. If I didnâ€™t feel that way, I wouldnâ€™t still be out there.â€
> â€œIâ€™d like to win the Bassmaster Classic one more time,â€ he said. â€œYears ago, when I won those first Classics, my daughters were young and it really opened their eyes. Dad really did have a job. Now I have young boys, and Iâ€™d like to have them see me win. That would mean a lot.â€
> KVD is quoted in the same article: â€œYou can never count Rick out. He can still fish at a very high level.â€