It'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.
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.