BassWestUSA - January/February, 2010, Page 21

Made in the USA

In addition to his boat and truck, everything “Skeet” appears yellow and black. From his Abu Garcia reels to his new signature series Tessera Rods, nearly all of his equipment follows the same color coordination. But the development of those pieces of equip- ment goes beyond a two-color palate; his personal endorsement requires more. “I love to be able to get in and help with the creation and design of things. To be involved with the product development and launch of the new Tessera rods, for example, was absolutely excit- ing. And the best part was that the results far exceeded my ex- pectations. Going into it, our goal was to create a great product at an affordable price for every angler without sacrificing any quality. Now I can say with absolute confidence, that I can put that rod up against any other on the market today, and its features and perfor- mance will blow your mind.” Arguably, Skeet’s single greatest influence on the fishing in- dustry is actually a color pattern. Chartreuse Shad was originally developed by Skeet when working with Lucky Craft lure company several years ago. Now, it is found in nearly every angler’s tackle box, and is mimicked by dozens of other tackle manufacturers. His involvement in product development, as he identifies, has grown along with his career. “I think as my career has progressed, companies have gained more confidence in my abilities to help them create. I am fortu- nate to be involved with my sponsors in that capacity at this point in my career. Bottom line is if I am going to put my name on it, it has to be right.”

Despite his consistent performance following his breakout season, it was not until 2003, six years after he started on tour, that Skeet achieved his first national win. To Skeet, the victory represented more than a six-figure paycheck. “Tournament fishing is really just a head game, so getting that first win was a much-needed confirmation that I could com- pete at the highest level. Up until that point, I was getting Top-10 finishes and doing well, but I didn’t know if I was going to be one of those anglers that never wins on tour. In the history of our sport, there have been a lot of great anglers that have spent entire ca- reers without one. When I actually got over that hurdle, it gave me that much more confidence on the water. I still have my weak moments where my confidence isn’t there and I start second-guessing my- self, but I am now a lot wiser overall when it comes to the deci- sions I make on the water.” Since his first tour-level triumph, Skeet has been a regular contender in other tour events, Bassmaster Classics, and Angler of the Year races. In 2007, he was named Bassmaster Elite Series Angler of the Year. The year of his title, B.A.S.S. had expanded their schedule to a 9-month, eleven-event tour season. It was the most extensive season ever organized in B.A.S.S. history, and remains Skeet’s most prized accomplishment.

Going into the new “postseason” for the B.A.S.S. Elite Series Angler of the Year title in 2009, Skeet was on top of the standings once again, ready to duplicate his 2007 feat. And with a Bass- master Classic victory to his credit, Skeet was poised to make B.A.S.S. history as only the second angler to win both titles in a single season. Unfortunately at the conclusion of the 3-event, 12-angler tour- nament series, he slipped to second place. It was a disappointing end to an otherwise successful year.

“In my mind, when the last regular season tournament was over at Lake Oneida, I was leading the points and should have won Angler of the Year. That would have been the case in any of the other 30-some odd years that B.A.S.S. has crowned an Angler of the Year. It just so happened that this past year was followed by a new postseason. That being said, I still had the opportunity to win and I didn’t. I had the bites and just ended up one fish short. All I can do at this point is go out next year, bust my butt, and hopefully put myself in position to win again.”

Beyond hoisting additional Classic and Angler of the Year tro- phies, one of Skeet’s long term goals is to expand his brand, Skeet Reese Incorporated, into new ventures within the industry. “A part of the sport that I would love to get into is angler man- agement. Eventually, I’d love to establish a business to help pro- mote and manage anglers’ careers. There is a lot of opportunity there - from negotiating endorsement deals to helping establish new businesses. I know I can’t compete forever, but I definitely want to be in- volved with the sport as long as I can. I am sure there will be some element of television that I will also get into down the road. I defi- nitely want to continue helping create new products and building brands. Really, I have no idea where things may go in the future. Wherever life takes me, it will take me.” Although it may be unknown as to where exactly life may take him, Skeet has proven throughout his career that he will continue to live his childhood dream in his own, “Skeet’s way.” BW

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January/February 2010