Editor’s Note: Rick Clunn of Ava, Missouri, has won 4 Bassmasters (www.bassmaster.com) Classics (1976, 1977, 1984, and 1990) and has 16 Bassmaster tournament wins, besides national wins on several other bass-fishing tournament circuits. Rick Clunn has been a consummate student of bass and knows bass fishing. Years ago, Rick Clunn told me that he believed in the Oriental philosophy about age – that older people should be revered for their wisdom. Clunn says, “In Oriental cultures, as people get older, they’re seen more and have perfected their crafts. That’s why at 72, I believe my best days of bass fishing are in front of me.” At the Bassmaster’s Elite Tournament on the St. John’s River on February 7-10, 2019, Rick Clunn made the cut to the top 10 who would fish on the last day of the tournament for the championship. That was the good news. However, he’d finished in 8th place and was 11 pounds behind the 1st place finisher at the beginning of the day.
At the Bassmaster’s Elite Tournament on the St. John’s River on February 7-10, 2019, Rick Clunn made the cut to the top 10 who would fish on the last day of the tournament for the championship. That was the good news. However, he’d finished 11 pounds behind.
For 44 years, Rick Clunn has competed at the highest level of bass fishing. Most anglers who’ve been fishing fewer years have had to have surgery for rotator cuff, carpal tunnel syndrome, back problems and/or many other ailments related to their job as an angler. How has Rick Clunn continued to fish and win tournaments into his 70s? Clunn explains, “I contribute my good health to having good genetics, but I’ve been doing several four things that I believe really help me physically.
*”Number 1: Man was created to stand up, not to sit down. If you look at the evolution of man, he’s not humped over and crawling around on the ground. He’s evolved to stand upright and walk, so I believe standing more than sitting has been a positive to my health. Remember too, I’m standing in a boat that’s cushioned by water, instead of standing on concrete or wood with no cushioning.
*“Number 2: I use a long-handled rod and cast underhanded. I do have shoulder problems from playing high school football, and numerous other anglers have wrist and elbow problems. Those anglers started bass fishing with short, pistol-grip rods, stayed with them and continued to fish with them, forced them to make overhead casts for many years. The underhanded cast which never came along until about halfway through our bass-fishing careers. My friend Gary Klein introduced those long, two-handed rods for casting to me, and he always used the long-handled flipping sticks for every form of casting. Gary told me, ‘Rick, I want to learn to crankbait fish.’ I was using one of those little, short-handled rods that you cast overhand with short handles, and I was throwing those crankbaits with one hand just like a baseball player would throw a ball.
“After about 4 – 5 minutes of watching, Gary tied one of those crankbaits onto his flipping stick. I couldn’t believe he was doing that. I said to myself, ‘That’s no way to fish a crankbait,’ but I immediately noticed he could cast further than I could. So, when I tried throwing a crankbait on Gary’s flipping stick, I realized it completely changed my throwing action.
Now I was using two hands to make a cast and not making a baseball-type throwing motion. I was aware that baseball pitchers couldn’t throw more than 100 balls a day. When they were taken out of the game, they had to rest their arms for 3 days before they could throw again. In tournaments and even in practice, I’d made over 1500 casts a day, overhand, and returned the next day to make 1500 overhand casts that day. I didn’t rest my arm. Then I realized some pitchers pitched all day, every day – softball players, the girls who pitched underhanded. And that was the same motion that an angler made when he made that little loop cast, underhanded. Therefore, I came to believe the long-handled rod and the underhanded cast helped save my shoulders, my wrist, my elbows and my back.
*“Number 3: The last thing is mentally enjoying what you do as a bass fisherman. Satchel Paige, the great baseball player, pitched well into his 50s. A reporter one day asked him, ‘How old are you when you step up on that mound and prepare to pitch a fastball?’ Paige looked at the reporter and said, ’29,’ and I thought to myself, that’s exactly the way I am when I’m on the water fishing. On the land, I may be 72, but on the water, I’m 29, and I believe that’s a good place to be mentally. This thinking has helped extend my competitive nature and my physical well being for many years.
For more information on Rick Clunn, go to his Facebook page: (www.facebook.com/rick.clunn)
To learn more about bass fishing, check out John E. Phillip’s book, “Bass Pros’ Season by Season Tactics,” available in Kindle, print and Audible versions at https://amzn.to/2WNqAmt