Class. Intelligence. Bold honesty. Passion. Maybe that’s why my Mom has always called Gary Klein one of her absolute favorite pro anglers. Indeed, he’s a living legend.
As a college kid, my dorm room was decorated with wisdom-rich letters from Ken Cook, and a poster featuring Rick Clunn and Gary Klein. I think it was a promotional poster that Skeeter Boats or Mercury Marine produced. I’m not sure, because that was 26 years ago.
But I am certain those three men were hugely enormous inspirations. And all three helped shape my life.
When I took my first job in the fishing industry at Lowrance in 1995, Gary Klein was one of the very first pros to always go out of his way to treat my wet-behind-the-ears, 25-year-old self, with respect – as well as a feeling of friendship.
I remember sitting next to him on a plane ride to Illinois six months into my career, sharing a taxi once on the ground, and talking about liquid crystal sonar screens versus his beloved ‘flasher’ technology nearly the entire time. I’ll admit – as I exited the taxi I was in awe.
The first time she fed him cookies was when she and Dad visited me at a Bassmaster Elite on Bull Shoals, Arkansas a few years ago.
Fast forward to an Elite Series tournament in Florida two months ago, when Klein sent her a video message stating he missed her cookies.
So, yesterday on a dock at Toledo Bend, I carried a camera worth thousands, and a plastic container full of homemade chocolate chip cookies – that was in a sense – priceless.
It was part of a care package that was waiting on me at the hotel desk when I checked-in. She wanted to make sure it arrived Wednesday just in time for the tournament. She spent $18.75 to get it here. Return address: “Mom and Dad.”
Taped to the top of the plastic container inside the cardboard box was a note in her always perfectly written blue ink with no scratch-outs. She had purposely purchased stationary featuring a boat – and largemouth bass stickers added further heart-driven detail.
“Hello Gary, I finally made you some cookies. Hope you enjoy, and maybe they’ll bring you good luck catching those big ones. Congratulations on your most recent Elite tournament. Great job. Sincerely, Mom Guck.”