By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
Matt Reed was having an excellent 2013 Bassmaster Elite Series season right up to the point when he was elected the new president of the Professional Anglers Association (PAA). Immediately thereafter, he turned in back-to-back bombs that sent him plummeting in the Toyota Tundra B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year (AOY) race and out of contention for a slot in the 2014 Classic.
"Do I think one of those things had anything to do with the other? No, I don't," the Texan said this week. "But that's something to keep an eye on because we know the history there."
By that, he was referring to the downturn in performance suffered by anglers such as fellow Elite Series competitors Tim Horton and John Crews during their tenures at the helm of the organization. Reed's immediate predecessor, Dave Mansue, is a retired policeman who doesn't compete on either of the major circuits (Elite Series or FLW Tour).
"I'm going to do my best not to let that happen, but it always does enter into things," he continued. "There were days late in this season where I found myself having to be on the phone during practice.
"I'm hoping I can keep them separate and I should be able to do that. I'll have to be careful, though, because it could easily become a distraction."
Didn't Ask for This
Holding the PAA's top position was not an aspiration that Reed harbored. As a blue-collar (he was formerly in the furniture business), no-nonsense sort, however, he's of the type that such an organization would naturally look to for leadership.
"Let's just say that I did not campaign for it," he said. "I did not seek the position. But the PAA is something I've been a part of for a long time and I definitely want to see it grow.
"When I was nominated by the board, I had to do a lot of thinking about whether I could make the time to do what needs to be done. Ultimately, I felt it was something I needed to do and I look forward to doing it."
Continued increase in the field size at PAA Tournament Series events is one of his major objectives, as it has been for every president who's served since the circuit was launched. There will also be an emphasis on functions for high school anglers – the PAA sanctioned three of those this year on a local level that were not connected to Tournament Series events.
"I'd love to see that expand some because that will affect the future of the sport. We've got some things on the drawing board to try to help it get bigger and better, but a lot of it comes down to funding. It's sad but true; everything follows the money trail."
Health Insurance on the Horizon?
Reed was somewhat reluctant to mention another major item on the agenda – group health insurance for anglers – because the process of developing a plan is in the newborn stage. It's been kicked around by the organization many times in the past, but nothing has come to fruition.
He said he was recently approached by a company that's interested in offering such a plan.
"A fairly high percentage of anglers don't have any health insurance at all and for some who do have it, it's extremely expensive," he said. "Who knows if we can make it happen, but it's something to work toward. It's going to require getting a great deal of information from our membership.
"I think it could happen within a year, but I don't have a real good sense of that timeframe because there's still so much that has to be done."
On that issue and all others that need to be addressed, Reed emphasized that he'll rely heavily on the other members of the board of directors (VP Brian Snowden and secretary Kelly Power in particular) for assistance.
"That was one thing I told the guys before I accepted the nomination. (Mansue) did a wonderful job with this and he put a ton of time into it – 30 to 40 hours a week. If you were involved with it and you saw what he did, you had to appreciate it. I knew I couldn't do that, so I said, 'Guys, I'm going to have to lean on you.'
"I'm going to put in as much time as I can to do what needs to be done. I'm not unrealistic about where we stand – we have to wait on B.A.S.S. and FLW every year before we can even put together our schedule because we know we have to fit in around it. We just want to make sure that we're there."