There’s been a lot going on as usual, but now that I’ve made my last trip of the year, I’m home with Kim and the girls until around the time I leave to go to Greenville, Lake Hartwell and the GEICO Bassmaster Classic. After spending more than 200 days on the road this year, it’s really nice to be able to relax and spend time with them.

I guess I’ll start with a visit to the Ranger Boats factory in Flippin, Ark., a couple weeks ago for their product knowledge meetings. I’d been to the plant once before and had seen some of the facility, but to see every step of how the boats are built was amazing. I was really impressed with the aluminum boat plant, the technology and the thorough approach they have to constructing the aluminum models, and it let me know that I could run those boats anywhere, anytime without any fear.

Bass Pro purchase

By now, you’ve all heard about the purchase of Ranger, Triton and Stratos boats by Bass Pro Shops, and I’ve got to say that they did a really good job of keeping that news under wraps, even while we were there.  I learned about it when all of you did…when the news went public.

The merger has certainly put a lot of quality companies under one roof, and I’m really glad that the brands went to a company with its identity in fishing. If it went to another big equity company, it could have become a much different company quickly. Outside of being a great company, Bass Pro Shops has a great deal of passion for the sport, they operate with integrity and care a great deal for conservation; it should be a great partnership.

I heard about the sale while I was spending a few days at Lake Hartwell scouting for the Classic. I am glad that I scouted because I had forgotten the layout of the lake from the 2008 Classic. I wanted to be able to shorten the learning curve when I go for practice and the event. By spending a few days looking at the lake and getting myself acclimated to how it lays out and how to navigate it, I can concentrate on the fishing.

In 2008, I had two bad days and one good day. The whole combination was good enough for a 12th place finish, but that’s not what we fish the Classic for. I’m going to have to put together three good days to be in position to win, and that’s what I’m working on.

The book on bass

The last thing I wanted to talk about was a book that I’m reading by Bassmaster Senior Writer Steve Price called The Fish that Changed America. It’s a book that brings much of the history of bass fishing into one place, and I have really been enjoying it.

First of all, Steve is a great writer, and he was really the first representative from Bassmaster to come west and do any work with our group of anglers out here. He gave the whole region a lot of exposure, he did a lot of work with me and he really helped my career a lot in those early years.

He poured a lot of his experience and all of his skill into this book. It’s really cool to look at all of the people he covers in it, because I’ve had the privilege of having my life and career overlap with so many of theirs.

He talks about people like Ray Scott, who pioneered the sport, and Tom Mann, who did so much from a fishing and lure development perspective. He writes about Stan Fagerstrom, the best trick caster in the sport. Stan spent a lot of time in the West doing expositions at International Sportsman’s Exposition shows, and the first time I ever worked the shows, I was in the same booth as him. I’ve followed his career ever since.

Steve tells the story of Cotton Cordell and how the company got started, as well as working with Lee Sisson and developing the first deep-diving crankbaits. He explores Jack Wingate, Tommy Martin, Guy Eaker, Forrest Wood, Earl Bentz, Billy Westmoreland, Bob Cobb and all of their accomplishments that helped build the sport.

But, along with Fagerstrom, the sections on Dee Thomas and Rick Clunn really hit home with me. Without Dee’s impact in the sport, and his teaching the whole world the Flippin’ technique, I wouldn’t be where I’m at in my career. Also, Rick is the angler who inspired me to want to be a professional angler.

The whole book really shares the original history of bass fishing, and it is worth a read by any fan of the sport. These guys are true legends, pioneers, and I’m now proud to say my friends.

Steve’s book makes me want to say thanks for all that everyone has given and done to start, build and grow this sport.

Other than that, all of us in the Reese family want to wish all of you a happy new year, and we look forward to sharing the season and some of our lives with you as we move into 2015. Above all, we hope you get out on the water as much as you can, and by all means, take your kids fishing. It’s great for them and the future of the sport.

Visit my Facebook and share your catches with me. Come show me, I would love to know what you have caught lately.