- Marty Stone
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I know it has not been long since we had our greatest angler debate. I know Rick Clunn was awarded the title.
Although I believe Rick is one of the greats, I made a push for Kevin VanDam (sorry Rick, but you're still one of my heroes).
The greatest angler debate was fun, but it did not cover the "here and now." For the sake of this article, I am going to say the here and now consists of the last four years.
We all want to know who "the Man" is, so I am going to tell you, but I am going to let the facts speak for themselves. I know people think this is going to be pretty easy. I know people might think I will plug Kevin in this spot since I debated so vehemently for him (in the greatest angler debate).
Others might think I will say our 2006 Angler of the year is the Man. It is true he is my friend, so there is an emotional attachment. But I said I would let the facts do the talking, so emotions are out the window.
Speaking of friends, I might as well throw the G-Man into this debate. Lastly, what would a current debate be without the one and (thankfully) only Greg "Hack Attack" Hackney?
Each of these guys would be pretty easy to defend in a court of law for who is the best (hopefully this article does not land me there). I know Kevin is the sexiest (Sherry made me say that) of choices. I also know Ike is the emotional choice for several reasons, depending on who you ask.
It could be argued he is the best, most outlandish, most loved and most hated, all in one. Ike is my "Earnhardt" of fishing.
G-man would win hands down for the funniest fisherman, probably of all-time. I could find those who would also argue he is the best in the last four years. They would tell you he is the most organized with his tackle and the safest boat driver on tour.
I know he is a lot of things, but organized is not one of them. I also know he is one of the most safety conscious anglers on tour, and for those of you who don't know, his new motto is safety first. Rumors of a boat driving school are running rampant
And last but not least, there is Hackney! I don't think there is a more feared angler when he is dialed in which seems to be more often than not.
Now I must let the facts speak. While the G-man and Hackney are great, they have not been the best the last four years. It is frightening to think we have someone better than these two. As great as he is, Ike does not have the numbers to support the criteria of best angler here and now.
His Angler of the Year standings during the last four years are as follows: 2003 102nd; 2004 3rd; 2005 8th; 2006 1st (with his average position being 29th). Most in our sport would give anything to have numbers like those, but believe it or not, they still don't make him the best.
Now we are back to KVD and here are his numbers: 2003 14th; 2004 26th (lowest in his career, which is remarkable); 2005 7th; 2006 3rd (average position 13th). These numbers are beyond great; they are off the chart.
We have all come to expect this type of success from KVD, but guess what? They don't make him the best either. We have one angler who has had better numbers than these. Who is this mystery man?
The Man is none other than California's Skeet Reese. I know you are going to say he has not won an AOY and does not have a Classic championship title. He is not even leading our power ranking (a goofy system invented by some group that has no clue about bass fishing, but needed to have some system that could make them feel important while confusing the heck out of most angling fans).
Heck, Skeet is not even going to win the best hairdo contest (that award should go to yours truly). I know you want to see his numbers, so here they are: 2003 10th; 2004 5th; 2005 9th; 2006 10th (average position 9th).
Oh and by the way, he is leading the 2007 AOY race. I predict before this year is said and done, he will have won a Major and/or an Elite Series tournament. I also predict within the next two years, he will win an AOY and/or a Classic.
I also remember having dinner at a Waffle House, before my first major win at Lake Wheeler, with Skeet and his wife, Kim. He was questioning whether he belonged. I guess he has since figured out that he does.
I wonder if Skeet knows he is only a few accomplishments away from being considered one of the greatest anglers of all time. But whatever you do, do not tell him he is hard enough to handle as it is!
Until next time!
Stone: Who's the best?