CELEBRATION, Fla. So far, eight-time BASS winner Gary Klein's results on the 2007 Bassmaster Elite Series have not been up to his standards.
Those especially high standards are based on 25 appearances in the Bassmaster Classic, two Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year titles and more than $1.5 million in career earnings in BASS competition.
"This year has been terrible," Klein said, half-joking, about his performance at the season's mid-way point. "Well, not really. I'm sitting in the middle of the pack in the Angler of the Year standings, but I haven't really had a great event yet.
"The best event I've had was at Amistad (the season opener). I was 1 pound out of the lead going into the third day. Then I zigged when I was supposed to zag and ended up in the 20's (27th place). But I think I'm fishing efficiently."
Klein's performance this season would be plenty good enough for most of his competitors.
He is in 29th place in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings entering this week's Blue Ridge Brawl presented by Advance Auto Parts on Virginia's Smith Mountain Lake. He has cashed a check in four of five Elite Series tournaments and has scored three finishes in the top 30 thus far.
"I'm certainly not down on myself," Klein said. "I'm trying to take it tournament by tournament, and so far I think I've weighed in a limit every day I've fished.
"A couple of tournaments, I've been within one or two bites of really doing well. The competition is really good these days. The anglers that I'm competing against now are very well educated. The information highway is very quick. You can't hold anything back on the water."
Klein's position in the Angler of the Year standings now would qualify him for the 2008 Bassmaster Classic scheduled for Feb. 22-24 on South Carolina's Lake Hartwell. The top 36 in those standings advance to bass fishing's major event. This would be the 26th appearance for the 49-year-old and would put him in second place behind Rick Clunn for most Classic appearances.
FEDERATION NATION NEWS. This week's Bassmaster Elite Series visit to Smith Mountain Lake should remind fishing fans that the Virginia chapter of the BASS Federation Nation was an instrumental partner in helping pass boating safety legislation in the commonwealth. The new legislation requires boaters to take a boating safety course in hopes of improving safety on Virginia waters and providing a more enjoyable boating and fishing experience for everyone.
Furthermore, many members of the Virginia Federation Nation will volunteer to become boating safety instructors. Those members will help educate novice boaters about safe boating practices, while setting a positive example on local waters.
INFO ON THE MOVE. Anglers will appreciate a new service from ESPN that provides up-to-the-minute and important weather information while anglers are away from their computers.
The ESPN Fishin' Forecast is available to all cellphone owners regardless of service provider. Fishing fans can view real-time Doppler radar, as well as hourly and seven-day forecasts and severe weather alerts. The service includes fishing tools such as solunar charts, barometric pressure readings, a fish weight calculator and more. The service is only $5.99 per month.
For more information, log on at www.fishinforecast.com.
SPOUSAL SUPPORT. Without the support of dedicated spouses, many Elite Series pros couldn't perform as successfully as they do.
Davy Hite, the 1999 Bassmaster Classic champion, recently explained what his wife Natalie has meant to his career.
"She is my wife but also my business partner. She really helps me out a lot. The biggest thing is she actually encouraged me to quit my job and come out here and pursue my dream. And for that, I'll always be thankful.
"You know there are not a lot of women that would do that. It was a gamble. It was so scary I hate to even think about it now. And when I look back now, I didn't know very much. I've learned a lot. She told me she was willing to tote the load a little as I pursued my dream. And that's just awesome."
HOTTEST RIG UPDATE. The winner, according to Bassmaster Elite Series fans, in the sixth week of the Hottest Rig Running contest was Virginia's Rick Morris, with 33.3 percent of the vote. California's Ish Monroe and Arkansas' Jimmy Mize were second and third, respectively.
Fans can vote for select Elite Series pros, including current Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year leader Skeet Reese and South Carolina's Jason Quinn, and pick their favorite boat wraps in Week 7. The creativity of the pros and their primary sponsors will be on display throughout the 11 Elite Series tournaments. See them at www.espnoutdoors.com/hottestrig.
Each week will feature a different group of anglers' boats for which fans can vote. Winners advance to the final round July 6-13. Second-place boats from weeks 1-10 will compete in a Second Chance Qualifier, getting a chance in week 11 to win a spot in the final round. Voting is limited to one vote per person each week. The winner of the contest will receive $10,000 and will be awarded at the Bassmaster Memorial presented by Evan Williams Bourbon in Syracuse, N.Y.
WEIRD CATCH.Elite Series rookie James Charlesworth spoke about his weirdest catch.
"I've caught a $200 rod-and-reel combo that someone dropped in a lake," the Florida pro recalled. "I think a lot of guys have done that. There's line in the water and I caught the outfit by hooking the line that was attached to the rod and reel. I was cranking at the time."
WRAP RAP. Elite Series rookie Scott Campbell's boat wrap has a musical theme. The Missouri rookie's boat promotes The Extreme Writers Group, a Nashville-based Billboard Top 10 publishing company.
Campbell is promoting the companies' new Gone Fishin' CD, which includes a song titled The Bass Tournament Song, at Bassmaster Elite Series events. For information, log on at www.extremewritersgroup.com.
DID YOU KNOW? Fred Roumbanis put himself in the Bassmaster Elite Series' record books with his victory at the Bassmaster American presented by Advance Auto Parts in Greensboro, N.C. Roumbanis became the first pro since the induction of the Bassmaster Elite Series to win an Elite-level event without catching a single limit during any of the four competition days.
IF I HADN'T BECOME A BASS PRO… 2007 Bassmaster Classic qualifier Sam Lashlee would still be in the mortgage business, in which he had worked for 10 years before turning to fishing full time last year.
THEY SAID IT. "When we were taking off, the (ESPN) helicopter was above me and there was a flock of six or eight geese between my boat and the helicopter, flying along at the same speed we were going. It was like they were there to wish me luck. Then after I'd been fishing for a while, a giant snapping turtle came up and sat next to the boat for about 10 minutes. Then a crappie came swimming up to the surface, and when I put my hand in the water it swam right into my palm, but it took off when I tried to grab it. Then a snake swam toward the boat, and then turned around and swam away." Fred Roumbanis, on his experience with nature during the final round of the Bassmaster American on North Carolina's Lake Townsend.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit www.bassmaster.com. Visit www.espnmediazone.com for ESPN's latest releases, schedules and other news, plus photos, video and audio clips and more.
News exclusives, audio and video clips of bass fishing's biggest stars, loads of discounts and more are all part of BASS Insider, an exclusive membership, now available at www.Bassmaster.com.
BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, staging more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation Nation annually. Guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans, BASS sets the standard for credibility, professionalism, sportsmanship and conservation, as it has for nearly 40 years.
BASS stages and sanctions bass fishing tournaments for every skill level culminating with the Bassmaster Classic. Through its clubs, youth programs, aquatic resource advocacy, magazine publishing and multimedia platforms, BASS offers the industry's widest array of services and support to its nearly 530,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.