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Published: May 8, 2014
Reese Looking for the Big Bite to Win at Ray Rob
2014 Shell Rotella Challenge Cup, Denton, Texas, Oct. 26, 2013 :: Championship
by Lynn Burkhead
|CHAMPIONSHIP Competitors |
DENTON, Texas – After a week of tediously grinding it out under tough fall conditions on North Texas' Ray Roberts Lake and Grapevine Lake, Jack Link's Major League Fishing pro Skeet Reese isn't hoping for more of the same in the final.
Especially since the action of the 2014 Shell Rotella Challenge Cup shifts back to the timber- and grass-choked waters of Ray Roberts for the Championship Round.
With a cold front advancing towards Texas, the threat of storms in the forecast later in the day, a falling barometer and cloudy skies, Reese is hopeful that the largemouth bass bite will be the best it has been for the entire event.
Which would be just in time for him to win the Challenge Cup title and hoist the big silver cup skyward.
"Yeah, I think if there is going to be a day (where the bite is good), today is the day," said Reese, the California pro making his first ever appearance in a MLF final round.
"Today will be the day to catch a big bag or get a few better bites."
Then Reese laughed at his answer, remembering the tough Elimination Round on Ray Roberts and the equally tough Sudden Death Round on Grapevine.
"Hopefully they'll bite better than they did the other day," he smiled.
Reese acknowledged that the fish did bite well for some other anglers, most notably Kelly Jordon who landed the biggest fish in Major League Fishing history in the opening round, an 8-pound, 2-ounce lunker from Ray Roberts.
KJ then followed that up with a 7-pound, 1-ounce bruiser early in the day at Grapevine, a fish that helped to eventually propel him over the 20-pound qualifying weight.
Reese, the 2009 Bassmaster Classic champ and the 2007 B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year, gave it a valiant effort but wasn't able to make the Sudden Death 20-pound mark, instead advancing to the Championship as one of the top three anglers for his particular semifinal round.
“ I don't know what the final weight will be or what the final outcome will be, but I know I need some bigger bites today to beat these guys. ”
– Skeet Reese
He knows that it's winner take all in the final. And while that will undoubtedly mean catching some numbers of fish, it also should mean that bigger bites will play a key role in who wins and loses the Challenge Cup on Ray Roberts.
"I would imagine so," said Reese, a seven-time winner on the B.A.S.S. circuits with some $2.8 million in career earnings to his credit.
"Between the six guys that we have here fishing today and the section of the lake that we're fishing - which looks to be probably one of the better sections of the lake - I'd be pretty surprised if at least one of us, if not all of us, gets into some better quality fish," he added.
"I'm hoping (at least). I don't know what the final weight will be or what the final outcome will be, but I know I need some bigger bites today to beat these guys."
During his opening round on Ray Roberts, Reese elected to stay deep in the brushy creeks, winding his way far back into the flooded timber and working his way up the leaderboard with a bite here and a bite there.
Given the fact that the championship field is fishing in the Buck Creek Arm of Ray Roberts, the most heavily timbered portion of the reservoir north of Denton, Reese said he may do more of the same on the final day.
"Right now, I don't know what it looks like out there," said Reese, after his first session of pre-dawn map study at the Buck Creek boat ramp.
"But I'm assuming that it's a lot of flooded brush and trees (like the other day). So I'm kind of thinking that the same little pattern that I got on (earlier in the week) will hopefully kind of hold true again, and again, maybe get some bigger bites as well."
With a star-studded field vying for the Challenge Cup trophy, Reese knows that he has to bring his "A-game" to the water.
After all, the championship field brings to the table a total of 51 professional tournament wins (including five Bassmaster Classic titles and one FLW Tour championship victory), a total of 11 Angler-of-the-Year titles, and some $15.5 million in career earnings.
“ I don't know what it means (to win a MLF title). Ask me that question if I win it and I'll let you know. ”
– Skeet Reese
That's extremely stout competition.
"I don't care what final round of a Major League Fishing event you look at, it's always a stout field," agreed Reese.
"I mean, you've got Brent Ehrler who is one of the hottest young anglers in the last five years in the bass fishing industry period.
"So yeah, it's a strong field. But it always is."
Against that stout of a field, what would it mean for Reese to find a way to win the Challenge Cup title?
With a bit of an impish grin, Reese smirked a bit and shrugged his shoulders.
"You guys love asking that question," he laughed. "That's like your favorite question to ask.
"I don't know what it means (to win a MLF title). Ask me that question if I win it and I'll let you know."
The bet here is that in a Hall-of-Fame career already glittering with great angling accomplishments, it would mean a lot to Reese.
A lot because a Major League Fishing trophy is as tough to win - if not tougher - than any other title in the sport.
Should the Californian win his first such MLF title, the guess here is that it won't be long until that big silver Challenge Cup chalice finds its way home to the West Coast.
Where it will sit in a place of very well deserved prominence in the Skeet Reese trophy case, one of the best that the sport of bass fishing has ever known.
NOTE: The Championship Round of the 2014 Challenge Cup will air through May 24 on Outdoor Channel. Check here for the full schedule.