BassWestUSA - January/February, 2010, Page 19

popularity with each passing season and the influx of sponsorship dollars started to at- tract the attention of notable west coast anglers. While his friends dreamt about careers in other sports, Skeet aspired to become fishing’s next Rick Clunn. Skeet first went fishing with his father at the age of three. When the Reese family separated early in his life, Skeet lived with his father while his older twin brothers, John and Jimmy, stayed with their mother. Throughout his youth, one thing remained a constant in his life: fishing. Skeet’s father shared his love for the sport with all three of his sons. The hobby provided a welcome diversion from daily stress while allowing them to spend valuable time together. “I did not come from a family with money by any means. I lived in a bachelor’s house for most of my life with my dad, and we struggled to make ends meet. But the one thing my dad had a passion for was bass fishing and he was the one that hooked me on it when I was young. When I was 10 years old, I started to really get into it and by the time I was 12, I was completely addicted and started thinking about professional bass fishing. That became the dream. Some kids wanted to be baseball or basketball players; I wanted to be a professional fisherman. I had no idea what the hell it meant, but it sounded really cool and I wanted to fish for a living.”

Most of Skeet’s friends had inspirational sport heroes. With the only “national” tour based out east, Skeet did not have a local, big-name professional role model. Despite the growing popularity of tournament bass fishing within his home state, most local profes- sionals remained geographically isolated from the national tournament scene. “There was not much of a track record for western guys being successful at fishing professionally. Most had to work a fulltime job to supplement their fishing income. There were still a few, though. Rich Tauber was making a living at it, but most of his money came from endorsements. And there was John Murray from Arizona who made a living from tournament winnings and guiding, but that was primarily out west. At the time, there really wasn’t that one person that was established nationally.” Against all odds, Skeet continued to chase his dream. Before turning 18, Skeet pur- chased his first bass boat. Although he did not even own a car, friends and family lent him use of a vehicle to use for towing. His new rig provided the means to explore waters independently, but more importantly, it advanced him one step closer to a professional career. Soon, he became a member of a local bass club and started entering local team tournaments with his brother, Jimmy.

Skeet first committed exclusively to fulltime fishing in his early 20’s. Although the decision was made without hesitation, he struggled to realize lasting success. He fished anything and everything offered as a tournament, including WON Bass, West Coast Bass, U.S. Bass, Angler’s Choice, and dozens of other local tournaments. The demanding sched- ule and financial commitment would quickly become taxing. “I was young, full of passion and desire to make a living at it, but did not make the right decisions. From a performance standpoint, I was doing terrible. I had a period where I would gamble my truck payment on an entry fee. And in most cases, I was just happy to get my entry fee back or make a little bit of money. But when that wouldn’t happen, I would have to ask, ‘Uh-oh, now what do I do?’ Soon, I was receiving collection notices, the repo-man was showing up, my credit was horrible, and I was borrowing from my friends on a regular basis. I was living in my truck, with no money, and no where to go. It was definitely a low-point in my career.”

» western influenCes

» first-tiMe pro

» a new Beginning

A couple friends recognized Skeet’s difficult situation and encouraged him to look outside of tournament fishing for income. John Kidder and Paul Vyeinelo, experienced in the tile business, convinced Skeet to join their company, and taught him the tools of trade. “They opened their arms up, brought me in, and helped me get back on my feet. I owe a lot to them. They got me turned around and headed in the right direction. I was working hard for my money and making better decisions. It also gave me something to fall back on, if I needed to.” Skeet tiled for approximately six years until he went to work for Ken Elie at Outdoor Pro Shops in Northern California. He accepted Ken’s job offer to start work prior to the grand opening. The store would eventually grow into one of the largest of its kind in the region.

January/February 2010