Matt Reed may not be the prototype professional fisherman when it comes to the image in the minds of fishing fans.
The 44-year-old Texas pro has fashioned one of the most consistent careers in the upper-level of the BASS wars as evidenced by his participation in last week's Bassmaster Major, the Bassmaster Legends presented by Goodyear on the Arkansas River.
He stands in 17th place in the CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings and, with just one tournament remaining, is in good shape to qualify for his second CITGO Bassmaster Classic.
But this is where Reed's reality differs from the average fan's mental profile of a top pro angler.
First, Reed is financing his Bassmaster Elite Series campaign with little help from sponsors. And that's no small feat, considering the cost of participating in a year-long season.
"Nearly all of the companies I pitched for sponsorship were non-endemic companies, but I didn't have any success," he said. "The fishing industry sponsors are just tight on money. By the time the season started I had already made up my mind not to worry about that and just go fishing.
"I'm working hard on getting sponsors for next year. There's some stuff going on right now that looks positive I think it might be easier this time around."
Second, Reed runs his family's 69-year-old furniture and appliance business between tournaments.
"While I'm running up and down the road, my dad does all the work," he acknowledged. "I go home on my off weeks and work and he goes fishing. It's a business we've been in a long time, but I don't know how much longer I'm going to do it. As long as (the fishing career) goes well, this is probably the direction I'm going to go."
Reed also is a divorced father of two teenagers who live with him in Madisonville, Texas.
"My kids have been great about my fishing," he said. "Right when I started fishing the tour, they decided they were going to come back and live with me full time. I said, 'Kids, I won't fish. I'll stay home and just not travel.' My daughter looked at me and said, 'I won't come if you don't fish.' So that got me going, and I made the Classic that first year."
Reed's investment looks really good right about now. He has cashed a check in seven of 10 Bassmaster Elite Series events (including $31,000 for finishing second at Oklahoma's Grand Lake), pocketing $99,000 this season. He also earned another $13,000 during the Bassmaster Memorial in May in Texas.
"My season has been really good," he said. Reed opened the season by making the Elite 12 cut at Lake Amistad at the Battle on the Border presented by Mercury Marine and finished 16th at the second tournament the Lone Star Shootout presented by Triton Boats.
With his financial target reached, Reed's next goals are to make the 2007 Classic and win a Bassmaster Elite Series tournament.
"My biggest highlights were making the Classic my first year on tour, and then winning an (2004 CITGO Bassmaster) Open. Now I would really like to win an Elite-level event. Over the years I've managed to win at every level, but I haven't won at this level, yet."
Next month, several Bassmaster Elite Series pros will help the United States team defend its title in the Eurobass Cup championship, an annual two-day bass tournament that pits American bass anglers against Europeans.
The U.S. team will be captained by Byron Velvick and also includes Lee Bailey, Ken Cook, John Crews, Shaw Grigsby, Mike Iaconelli, Steve Kennedy, Aaron Martens and Fred Roumbanis.
The tournament will be held on the Reservoir of Ricobayo in Spain on Sept. 26-27.
BASS Insiders now have a great, new feature the BASS Insider Fishing Log.
The electronic logbook allows anglers to input information into a personal online fishing log. They can add weather conditions, water temperature, lure selection and various other important data that they will want to recall later to help pave the way to a more successful fishing trip.
Not only will it help you recall your own information, but you also can access the database of thousands of other Insider members. Among the information found in this great log is information dating back to the mid-1990s, including tournament creel data from the likes of Rick Clunn, Denny Brauer, Kevin VanDam and Michael Iaconelli.
Check out the fishing log for yourself at www.Bassinsider.com.
Mike Wurm's colorful Bassmaster Elite Series boat wrap promotes the natural wonders and outdoor recreation opportunities in Hot Springs, Ark. His title sponsor is the Hot Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"It seemed like a natural fit to me," he said. "I'm a hometown boy and mostly everybody knows me and knows what I do for a living. And they're really big into fishing.
"They've had a couple of big tournaments there in Hot Springs and seen exactly what goes on at a big tournament (and) how important big tournaments have become. How many people they attract. How 'big time' fishing is. That's what led me to think of them."
Bassmaster Elite Series rookie sensation Steve Kennedy hooked a fish in the shallow, clear waters of New York's Oneida Lake that made his mind flash back to the "weirdest catch" staple published each week.
"At Oneida, I caught a catfish that was stuck in a tire," the Alabama pro said. "It was like a 12- or 15-pound cat, and the tire was so small he was just going in circles. He had been there so long he had rubbed a sore spot on the top of his head, which was 8 or 10 inches wide. It was a huge fish.
"I threw a Kinami Flash in there in front of him and I guess he was starving to death because he ate it. I saved him. I pulled him and out and let him go."
Did you know?
Last week's Bassmaster Legends marked the first time in a decade BASS has staged a tournament on the fabled Arkansas River. The last was the 1995 Bassmaster Arkansas Invitational.
If I hadn't become a BASS pro
Bassmaster Elite Series pro Kenyon Hill believes his career would be in marketing and advertising today.
"Simply because it changes from time to time," the Oklahoma angler said. "I was working towards a degree when I got bored and went fishing. In that business , your projects change. So I could live with that. I couldn't do the same thing every day."
They said it
"I did the very first promotion Johnny (Morris) ever did when he got his first Bass Pro Shop store. Half of it was a Brown Derby liquor store that his daddy had. He gave Johnny the other half for sporting goods. I saw my name up on the marquee. It said, 'Seagram's V.O. half-gallon $14.95, Jack Daniels half-gallon $12.95, Welcome Bill Dance.' I thought, 'Well, I've hit the big time now.'" Three-time BASS Angler of the Year Bill Dance reflects on his early status as professional fishing's first star.