Kevin Short

The Master

It was so very cool to watch The Master hold up a blue trophy this past weekend at the St. Johns River. It’s been a long, dry spell for Clunn and very long overdue.

This is a man who was a perennial favorite to win those late summer Classics for many years. He’s one of those guys who holds records: number of Classic wins, number of Classics qualified for, high on the total number of wins list, high on the all-time money list. He’s just a freaking Legend of the sport. He’s The Master.

Clunn has always been one of my heroes and someone I looked up to and emulated when it came to chunking and winding a plug. He’s most likely the reason I’ve won as much money as I have with a crankbait.

He’s always been very simplistic in his approach to the craft of fishing. He always wanted similar action rods that would have the same feel, yet toss a multitude of baits. Always wanted the same reel so that the retrieve speed was similar. Simple colors in his bait selections.

I remember on several occasions bumming a bait off him or vice versa and I was always amazed at the minimalist color selection that he carried in his boat. Here I was with every color under the rainbow and he basically had a shad color, bluegill or perch color, and a crayfish color when it came to plugs. Simple.

I like simple, I’m just not brave enough to carry simple in the boat during the derby. Seems to have worked out pretty well for him, though.

Help vs no help

I have to wonder after his win if this was Old School Clunn who ran from outside information and played his own game or was this the New Wave Rick that gathered info like a crazed junkie, as many of his fellow competitors do? I suppose on one hand, a “W” is a “W” whether you get info or do it on your own. The check’s most likely in the bank by now, so what difference does it make?

Let’s ponder that for a minute. Would you rather win your next derby because your buddy told you a particular cove was stacked full of them or would you rather find the cove based on your own interpretation of what the fish were doing on the day of the derby? Does it matter to you how you find them, or is catching them more important than finding them?

I’ve always been one of those hard-headed SOBs that had to do it my own way. Probably one of the reasons I’ve never been more consistent in the AOY standings.

That’s not to say that I didn’t have some help along the way or never had anyone tell me about a good area of a particular lake. But the overwhelming majority of time that I’ve received any kind of help at all, it’s been a huge waste of time for me. Maybe I’ve just never figured out how to decipher good info from not-so-good info.

Either way, at the end of the day, I can honestly look at every trophy on the wall, shelf, in boxes, and everywhere else they are scattered around the house, and count on a couple fingers the times info from anywhere other than my head helped me get that hardware.

That’s just the way I do it, and it’s something I learned from The Master. In no way will it diminish my admiration for him if I learn that outside info influenced his latest win, but I sincerely hope that he went Old Skool on their butts in Palatka and figured it all out in his own head.




  1. Gary Longley

    March 25, 2016 at 8:45 am

    Nice article Kevin. Super proud of the ole guy. Everytime I receive tournament info it goes wrong. My worst tourneys are when I have so called “great info”. My best is when I find “my fish”

  2. chuck cregger

    March 30, 2016 at 1:03 am

    Old school is cool–but from the master himself–its not like your fishin one on one. Your fishin against probably an already great angler with a pocket full of waypoints and baits provided by the local hot stick or guide. Dock talk is one thing, super dialed-in info is another. The stakes are higher than ever and guys are skirting the rules with precision.

  3. Alex Voog

    April 6, 2016 at 6:25 pm

    Yes, agreed wholeheartedly, CONGRATS TO THE MASTER! I watch my vhs tape of “BASS FISHING – Top to Bottom with Rick Clunn” at LEAST once a year. He was so overdue, and I can’t wait for the tourney to air. Mr. K – Pink you, are a legend too. Your resilience in the face of those two horrible events you and Kerry have endured are truly inspirational and I have always been overjoyed by your wins and “comebacks”. Competitor to competitor Information and “light” Dock Talk are one thing, outside info, waypoints, paid “researchers” et al are corrupting the purity of the sport and while the check may make your bank account fatter (for now), there will always be an *asterisk in our minds and YOURS, and while you may have been “The Champion” that day, you most certainly are not the winner.

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