24 before 29

Category: article

 Feb 18th, 2011 by OutdoorsFIRST 

Modified Feb 18th, 2011 at 12:00 AM

t’s a number that’s simply hard to imagine. Yet, it’s true. It’s real. And as mind-boggling as it is, Gary Klein is about to compete in a Bassmaster Classic for the 29th time. 

Gary Klein (Photo McGuckin)

Part of what makes it hard to imagine is that Klein appears too young to have done this 29 times. Still thin-framed, square-jawed and of no noticeable grey hair, at age 53, Klein sports a look of complete athletic readiness the day before his 29th try to earn a treasured trophy that has eluded him 28 times before.

Always the consummate class act, Gary graciously provided a look at the 24-hours leading up to his 29th try, stating, “I’ve taken great care to manage all the variables that I can control at this point.  I can’t control fog.  I can’t control another angler beating me to my best spot.  But I feel very confident.  I have an area where I can win this thing if I can get there first, and on-time each morning,” said Klein.

6:00 a.m., Thursday – wake up call at a high-rise hotel in downtown New Orleans

6:30 a.m. – breakfast was light and limited to two breakfast bars and a nutrition drink.

7:00 a.m. – Klein catches a shuttle bus from the hotel to the boat yard while the morning is still cool and fresh, and he rigs two 8-foot long Quantum Tour Klein flipping sticks with 65-pound braided line.  A minor tackle tweak, citing there was very little left to do, considering he’s only planning to fish with two basic lures, both of which will involve flipping and pitching.

11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. – Klein joins the rest of his fellow competitors at Media Day at a warehouse facility where dozens of intriguing Mardi Gras parade floats are stored.  Klein is among the most popular anglers from which dozens of media members seek interviews. Over a lunch of native cuisine, Klein talks graciously and in detail for over three hours with writers and photographers.

3:00 – 4:30 p.m. – Back to the boat yard.  He’s still wearing his brand new Repel Insect Repellent sponsor jersey that he wore during Media Day interviews as he places a Triton Boats decal on the carpet of his front deck.  Then he spends over 30-minutes talking business with a sponsor representative. No tackle gets touched this time.

6:00 – 8:00 p.m. – Dinner with his sponsor Odyssey Batteries.

9:00 p.m. – lights out, time for a good night’s rest.

4:00 a.m., Friday- wake-up call.

5:00 a.m — catch a bus to boat yard, jump in Tundra, tow Triton to launch at Bayou Segnette State park, hope it’s not foggy, and that #29 results in the only trophy that’s yet to decorate his legendary career.

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