April 18, 2011
Toledo Bend Aftermath
You probably thought you'd heard the last from me regarding the Toledo Bend tournament. As you know, getting away from my basic tournament philosophy cost me making the cut to the top 50, so I didn't fish on Saturday.
Instead, I went out to the weigh-in venue to represent some of my sponsors -- Berkley, Power-Pole, Triton, Mercury and Zebco-Quantum. It gave me a chance to spend some time with fans, sign some autographs and generally do the "other" part of my job as a bass fishing professional.
Everybody knows about the fishing part of being a bass pro. We're on the water hundreds of days each year, practicing for or fishing tournaments. There's also the travel and gear preparation that goes into each event. All of that gets a lot of attention in the media, but we don't talk enough about what goes into supporting our sponsors.
Of course, one way we support them is by designing gear that eventually finds its way into your hands after months (sometimes years) of development, testing and manufacturing. That's a challenge and a lot of fun -- to see your thoughts and creativity come to life in a new lure, rod or reel.
Then there's the time I get to spend at tackle shows or sponsor booths at tournaments, like the Elite Series event on Toledo Bend. Talking and spending time with the fans of our sport is a really enjoyable way I get to support my sponsors, but it's also a way I "recharge my batteries," reinvigorate my appreciation for how fortunate I am and renew my spirit and how I feel about this great sport.
I was absolutely humbled on Saturday during the time I got to spend with the folks who came out to the tournament. I was blown away by the amount of support for me and the sport. There was a great turnout every day of the event, and it renewed my belief that some of the greatest people in the world are the people you meet when you're out fishing or gathering to talk about fishing.
I'm not trying to wish a bad tournament on any of my Elite competitors (well, maybe a little -- I need some help to move up in the standings!), but I think it does us all a lot of good to spend time around the tournaments even after we miss a cut or two. There's just no substitute for the chance to meet the fans.
I also found out that a lot of people read this tournament diary. Several came up to me after reading what happened on Day Two and told me they felt sorry for me.
Well, I want to tell everyone right now that you shouldn't feel sorry for me about what happened on Friday. It was self-inflicted!
As you know, these tournaments are competitions, and the Bassmaster Elite Series is the highest level of fishing competition in the world. My poor execution cost me the chance to fish on Day Three, and I didn't deserve to make the cut. I'm ready to move on now, and I assure you that I've learned from my mistakes. Hopefully, they'll make me a better angler in the future.
Finally, I want to thank everyone out there who has touched my life and career by coming out to a tournament, purchasing a product made by one of my sponsors, flattered me by asking for an autograph or read a fishing magazine or this tournament diary.
You make Gary Klein possible, and I want you to know that I appreciate you very much.