Why and How I joined RB Bass
by Shaun Leytem
Like most young kids growing up, I fished when ever I had the chance. I fished farm ponds, creeks and lakes with my Granddad. In Junior High I used to have my mom or my friends mom, drop us off in Granite Bay. We would go walking miles knocking on peoples door asking to fish there ponds. If I wasn’t fishing I was watching it on T.V. Bill Dance, Hank Parker, Roland Martin, Bass Masters, were regular shows I would watch on weekends. When I was able to drive I joined Folsom Bass Club, thanks to Gordon Jones. Gordon was one of my mentors who taught me a lot about bass fishing. I will never forget the time I was finally able to take him out in my first bass boat, a little 175 Bass Tracker. I took him out to Folsom during the spawn. I watched him catch fish after fish that day. I don’t recall catching a single fish that day. All I did was lip his bass for him, take out the hook and hold it up to show him. That was probably one of the most memorable days I’ve had fishing. He passed away awhile ago now, I still share what he taught me to other up and coming anglers.
In 2003 I fished started fishing Future Pro Tour, then Anglers Choice later on. My partner and I ended getting Anglers of the Year in Future Pro Tour. After a couple of partner changes after a few years. I ended up fishing with Paul “Stretch” Cunningham, we fished Anglers Choice and FPT together. We ended up being business partners for awhile when we purchased Lim-it Lures of California from previous owner Dan O’Sullivan. After a few years of life changes, marriage, kids, and work. Family became priority over fishing. In 2011, there were changes at my work, that made money really tight. We were struggling to get by. Without support from our parents and family I’m not sure what would of happened. I ended up selling my Nitro Bass Boat at a extremely cheap price. That November Stretch passed away. He was my best friend, best man in my wedding, and fishing partner.
It wasn’t till 2014 I started bass fishing again. After taking a few years off I joined Oro Madre Bass Anglers out of Lake Amador. That got me back into bass fishing. 2017 I fished BASS Nation, made the state team and got Non Boater Angler of the Year. 2018 I fished Wild West Bass Trail Teams. We qualified for TOC and ended up in 4th Place. My partner fished with his son the following year.
2019 I had no boat and no partner to fish with. I decided to give Kayak Bass fishing a try. I thought about how much of a change it would be. No more asking my partner when is he going to take his boat out, or we should try fishing here or there. Basically waiting for the boater to make decisions. In a kayak, its all my decisions. Go fishing when and where I want to go. The best thing, no gas. Still have that competitiveness in me, I wanted to fish tournaments. My friend and kayak fisherman Brandon Hernandez is responsible for getting me set up for tournaments. He showed me the ins and outs of kayak bass fishing. I was completely different than what I was used to. Kayak tournaments are done by taking photos of the length of your fish. A completely new concept to me. Getting ready for this new adventure I wanted to go all in.
I’ve always used maps and the internet before my practice for tournaments. I would google fishing reports on a lake I plan of fishing and RB Bass would always come up first. I would read the reports on the lake and use the information to help put a game plan together for practice. I remember reading reports form guys I have met like Mike Coleman and Josh Paris. I would scroll through reports and information for hours at a time. Then I thought about it. RB Bass doesn’t have anyone on the team to represent the growing kayak bass fishing community. I contacted them, submitted my information and was invited to there annual meeting.
I was nervous as heck. I stayed in the back and kind of watched and took it all in. I recognized a lot of the faces from the website. Then before I knew it, people were introducing themselves to me and talking to me like I was family. After Ron Howe talked about RB Bass and expectations I knew I wanted to be part of this group. I all my years of bass fishing, fishing ponds, watching shows, fishing tournaments, this was the big step I was looking for. Its more than the “perks” of being with RB Bass. It’s writing reports, doing videos, growing the sport, and growing yourself in the industry. I finally get that chance to share knowledge I gained from fishing with so many great fishermen through my life on a bigger scale. I love it when people say, “That was a good report,” or “Thanks for the help.” I sometimes get random messages from people I don’t know, and they have a question about kayak bass fishing. I’m always willing to help. Just like RB Bass, there is always someone willing to help you with something. I’m honored to be part of RB Bass and be among all these great anglers.