GARY KLEIN, former PAA board member, is leaning toward B.A.S.S. circuit

“Change is good–sometimes.” So says former Oroville resident and 29-time Bassmasters Classic qualifier Gary Klein.

In this instance a lot is changing in his professional career. Not only has ESPN sold B.A.S.S. to a new ownership group led by former TV host Jerry McKinnis, but Klein’s Triton boat sponsor was purchased by Platinum Equities, already holders of Ranger, Champion and Stratos brands.

On the one hand, this might seem like an opportune time to advance the cause of the player driven Professional Anglers Association (PAA) which has commenced its own tour. After all, Gary is a former member of its Board of Directors.

But it’s not happening.

When I caught up with him practicing on Lake Conroe yesterday (site of the PAA’s huge Toyota Texas Bass Classic) Klein told me,  “I haven’t been competing in PAA because of scheduling, but I’ll be competing in the last two.”

But it was evident he was miffed over last year’s snub in the TTBC, an event originally spawned by pro fishermen. “I was not part of it last year. They had some points system that had me (way down). I would put up my year and my career against a lot of guys (for a shot at the $200,000 in prize money).”

As it turned out, the tournament took 15 from FLW, 15 from B.A.S.S., 15 from PAA and 5 provisional spots for Toyota sponsored pros. Obviously, Gulf States Toyota was pulling the strings, which is prima facie evidence that there is no “Big 3” in bass organizations. That’s because PAA, as yet, cannot stand on its own.

“BASS and FLW are still owned by third parties. PAA is angler run; but time will tell,” says Klein.

Reflecting on the sale of B.A.S.S., he says, “I look at it as a positive. I’m excited for B.A.S.S. and I applaud Jerry and I will support him to the best of my ability. The brand (B.A.S.S.) has been around for a long time. If Jerry puts on a competitive (tour) and I have the credentials, I’m going to be involved.”

As for the merry-go-round within the boating industry, Klein says, “It’s a positive for Triton because Earl (Bentz, the founder) is still a part of it. That’s a really good thing and gets them out from under the corporate umbrella and should get them more one-on-one with the dealers.” As Gary suggests, “It certainly needed a change of direction and Earl has reached out to everyone of us (on the pro staff.) He brings a personal touch.”

Which gets us back to the PAA, which Klein has enthusiastically supported from the beginning. “I’m not saying (Toyota demands) are a bad thing nor that they (the PAA) don’t have hurdles to overcome. I’m just not involved with them.”


4 Responses to “Former PAA officer Klein supports B.A.S.S.”

by Kevin Johnson

Good read GK!

George – I work with the Toyota Texas Bass Classic staff and wanted to follow-up on your story with Gary Klein. There are a few misleading items that should be pointed out, mainly so that you are aware of the true picture.

The 2009 TTBC qualifying criteria that you printed is incorrect. Those criteria are actually the 2010 standards. In 2009, qualification was solely based on the PAA Tournament Series points and Tour Level points. Our field, therefore, was based on the PAA standings and not Toyota preferences.

Gary is correct in that he could have been left out of the TTBC field last year, even though he may have performed well on the B.A.S.S. or FLW tours. For this reason, the TTBC has changed the field requirements for this year to what you stated above in your article.

The TTBC wanted more equal representation of the best anglers in the world in the field and in 2010 we took over the qualification criteria from the PAA to ensure this. We wanted an event that would represent a true world championship and for that reason we have created a field that combines the top-15 from the Bassmaster Elite Series, FLW Tour and PAA Tournament Series.

The final five spots in the field are NOT reserved for Toyota sponsored pros. One spot is reserved for 2009 champion Dave Lefebre (NOT a Toyota guy), and four are tournament exemptions chosen by tournament officials.

Our event is still in its infancy, and we are working hard to educate everyone in the industry, like yourself, about our event. I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself via this note and clear up some of these points. I would love the opportunity to talk more with you about our event and answer any questions you may have or do some sort of feature/preview for the upcoming event. We are expecting it to be a great improvement across the board. Thank you for your attention.

Adam Harris

by George Kramer

Hey, Adam. Thanks for the clarification. Appreciate you chiming in.

What! incorrect info on the internet! Who’d a thunk it!