Ultimate Bass

Gary Klein Strategizes for Bassmaster AOY

A third AOY crown for Klein would be remarkable in at least three waysNow holding down fourth place in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings, Bassmaster Elite Series pro Gary Klein of Weatherford, Texas, has a chance for a third title as top stick. A third AOY crown for Klein would be remarkable in at least three ways:

Gary Klein is in 4th place in the Bassmaster Angler of the Year RaceNow holding down fourth place in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings, Bassmaster Elite Series pro Gary Klein of Weatherford, Texas, has a chance for a third title as top stick. A third AOY crown for Klein would be remarkable in at least three ways:

* It would come 20 years after his first AOY title in 1989 and 16 years after his second in 1993.

* With a third AOY crown, Klein would join a select group of anglers. Only four pros possess three or more titles: nine-time winner Roland Martin, four-time champ Kevin VanDam and three-timers Mark Davis and Bill Dance.

* At age 51, Klein would be the oldest angler in BASS history to win the AOY title.

Klein’s AOY standing reflects his consistently strong 2009 season. He has posted two top-12 finishes while making the tournament cut to the top 50 who fish Day Three in six of seven events. He has never slipped lower than sixth in the points.

“It’s been a decent year,” Klein said. “I’ve dodged bullets in a few events and I’ve had a couple missed opportunities. I should be a little higher in the standings, but to have a shot at the title again is pretty awesome.”

Klein has more than a shot. He is in prime position to claim one of the 12 spots in the inaugural postseason of the Bassmaster Elite Series, the Sept. 12-18 Toyota Trucks Championship Week, when the AOY will be decided and the $200,000 first-place prize awarded.

As holder of fourth place in points this far along in the season, a top-37 finish for a berth in the 2010 Bassmaster Classic is a given for Klein.

“That’s a good feeling,” he said. “That’s one thing you really strive for as a competitor, to be in a position — especially going into the final event of the year — where qualifying for the Classic is not even a thought.”

It will be his 28th Classic qualification in 30 years on the BASS tournament trail.

Klein said his next goal is to improve his position when the AOY race continues this week with the Ramada Champion’s Choice on Oneida Lake out of Syracuse, N.Y.

The pro from Texas worked hard in preparation for Oneida, hoping to improve on his record there of 53rd in 2008, 49th in 2007 and 13th place in 2006. He made an extra 3,000-mile round trip from Texas to the tournament site for a scouting foray before the lake’s off-limits period.

“I felt that there had always been a little key thing that I’d missed about Oneida the past couple of tournaments,” Klein said. “I was there for three days and I think I figured it out, I found what I was looking for.”

He has not scouted the two postseason waters, Lake Jordan and the Alabama River. First things first, he said.

“Let’s just fish Oneida and we’ll see how the points play out, then I’ll start focusing on Alabama.”

That’s not to say he hasn’t thought about the inaugural postseason or the possibility of a third AOY title. He trails leader Kevin VanDam of Michigan by 194 points, a seemingly insurmountable deficit.

Not so, said Klein.

“The restructuring of the points for the postseason is going to bunch us all back up again to make it an interesting sprint to the finish line,” he said. “I’ve never lived it — none of us have — but I know I’m going to do my best. It’s an awesome opportunity.”

ONE WAY OR THE OTHER: Dangling precariously below the 37th-place Bassmaster Elite Series cutline for the 2010 Bassmaster Classic, Elite Series pro Terry Scroggins of San Mateo, Fla., is hoping his parachute will open.

Scroggins is 41st in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race. Four places outside the cut for the Classic, Scroggins has one more chance to make up some ground at the Aug. 13-16 Ramada Champion’s Choice on Oneida Lake out of Syracuse, N.Y.

His “parachute” is the Bassmaster Southern Open circuit, which he is leading after two events. After the third and final Southern Open tournament in October, the top two pros will qualify for the 2010 Classic, set for Feb. 19-21 on Lay Lake out of Birmingham, Ala.

Still, he’d like to qualify for his seventh Classic through the Elite Series. Forty-five points away from the pro holding the magic 37th spot, Texan Matt Reed, Scroggins does have a chance.

But he has had middling finishes at Oneida in the past. Last season he placed 21st, an improvement over past performances of 32nd in 2007 and 40th in 2006. So has he figured out the upstate New York fishery?

“Oneida’s kind of a funny place,” Scroggins said. “I don’t know that anybody has it figured out, so to speak. It’s like you have to fish for largemouth to win, but to get the most consistent weight to get a check, you fish for smallmouth too. With the position I’m in this year, I’m going to do a little of both, I’m going to try to find largemouth — hard to do — and a couple groups of smallmouth.

“I have a definite plan. It’s going to be different from what I’ve done there in the past. It might work out very, very well, it might not be so good. We’ll just have to see how it goes. If I didn’t have that second opportunity through the Opens, I might fish Oneida a little differently.”

If Oneida goes badly for him, Scroggins will have a two-month wait before he can try to wrap up a Classic berth through the Southern Open division. The Open tournament will be on South Carolina’s Santee Cooper Reservoir, where he has done well in the past. In a mix of Elite and Open-level events through the past six seasons he has logged a win, a third and three seventh-place finishes.

CHARLIES RECOGNIZE PUBLICATIONS. At the Annual Florida Magazine Association Charlie Awards gala last week, ESPN Outdoors Saltwater Magazine was named the best custom magazine. BASS Times netted a silver Charlie Award for best redesign, and Bassmaster Magazine won the silver Charlie Award for best use of illustration in a consumer 50,000-plus circulation and earned a bronze Charlie Award for best written magazine, consumer 50,000-plus circulation.

Celebrating excellence in design and writing, the Charlie Awards categorize magazines by circulation only, not subject matter. There were more than 600 Charlie Award entries this year.

NATION HITS THE TRAIL AGAIN: The Northern Divisional tournament of the BASS Federation Nation will take place Aug. 12-14 on Lake Michigan out of Escanaba, Mich.

Eight states and Italy will field teams. The top finisher from each team will advance to the BASS Federation Nation Championship presented by Yamaha Outboards and Skeeter Boats, Oct. 28-30 on the Harris Chain of Lakes out of Tavares, Fla. From the championship in Florida, six anglers will emerge as BASS Federation Nation qualifiers for the 2010 Bassmaster Classic, set for Feb. 19-21 on Lay Lake out of Birmingham, Ala.

After this week’s Northern Divisional, only the Western and Mid-Atlantic divisionals remain. The other three 2009 divisionals for this year have been completed.

HOW IT IS: “I just want you to know that I’m going to speak the truth and bring you a dose of reality from the world of high stakes bass fishing.” — Bassmaster Open pro Frank Scalish of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, in his new blog at Bassmaster.com

BACK TO WORK: “I’m really jacked up to get to Oneida and the postseason. My competitive drive is kicking in, as is my desire to hold another AOY trophy.” — Skeet Reese, 2007 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year and 2009 Bassmaster Classic champ, in his new blog at Bassmaster.com

About BASS For more than 40 years, BASS has served as the authority on bass fishing. With its considerable multimedia platforms and expansive tournament trail, BASS is guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry-leading publications Bassmaster Magazine, BASS Times and Fishing Tackle Retailer and comprehensive Web properties in ESPN360.com, ESPN’s broadband sports network, Bassmaster.com, BASSInsider.com and ESPNOutdoors.com, the organization is committed to delivering content true to the lifestyle. Additionally, television programming on ESPN2 continues to provide relevant content – from tips and techniques to in-depth tournament coverage – to passionate audiences. The organization oversees the prestigious Bassmaster tournament trail, which includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bassmaster Opens, Academy Sports + Outdoors Women’s Bassmaster Tour and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Bassmaster Classic. Through its grassroots network, the BASS Federation Nation, BASS annually sanctions more than 20,000 events. BASS also offers an array of services to its more than 500,000 members while spearheading progressive, positive change on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.



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