News

Klein Prepares to Weather Day One Change

by Lynn Burkhead

Elimination Round Day 1 Competitors

Greg Hackney

Shaw Grigsby

Alton Jones

Mike McClelland

Jeff Kriet

Skeet Reese

Gary Klein

Tommy Biffle

DENTON, Texas – There's an old saying in Texas: if you don't like the weather, stick around a few minutes.

Because it is surely bound to change.

Especially, it would seem, as the Jack Link's Major League Fishing pros come to town.

Because on this first day of the 2014 Shell Rotella Challenge Cup in Denton, Texas, the weather out on Lake Ray Roberts is expected to change as the day goes along.

A good southerly breeze and mild conditions early in the day, changeable conditions with a front later in the day.

So what's new? In the building history of pro bass fishing's hottest on-the-water game, the weather always seems to be changing.

Blazing summer sun. Temper tantrum thunderstorms. Big shields of rain obscuring the radar screen. Powerful cold fronts with strong northerly winds. Big winds howling out of the south, producing a sea of whitecaps. And heck, even a hurricane has been thrown into the mix so far.

In fact, about all that hasn't happened in MLF competition yet is a snowstorm.

And while that won't happen in this event, the weather will change a time or two, including Elimination Day One.

So with that in mind, how will a change in wind direction and barometric pressure affect the eight competitors?

Standing on the launch ramp at Lake Ray Roberts, MLF co-founder and competitor Gary Klein says that's unknown, but the potential is there for it to affect things in a big way.

"It (could) mean everything," said Klein, who is more than familiar with the Lone Star State's moody weather after being a resident of not-so-far-away Weatherford for more than a quarter century.

"Anytime you have a weather change during the actual day of competition, it forces you to start thinking ahead."

Unlike some anglers who fuss and fret when the weather changes, Klein embraces it as part of the game.

"I (love the) challenge of that," said the veteran bass fishing pro with eight B.A.S.S. wins and 30 Bassmaster Classic appearances on his resume.

"I really, really look forward to it because that's normally when I really excel. Other guys struggle because they get so locked (into something) and I'm (doing the opposite), trying to figure things out."

“ Hour by hour, the bite gets a little bit more predictable and it seems like it gets a little bit better. ”

– Gary Klein

And that's, of course, part of the thrill of the pro angling game played the Major League Fishing way; it's quick, it's up close, it's personal, it's in your face.

No matter what the day's weather map or playing field may dish up, a MLF pro has to quickly adapt or face the risk of getting sent home.

How will Klein adapt? He says for starters, by being patient. Because in his experience, the fish tend to bite better as the day gets longer during the autumn season.

"It seems like the fish might adjust (as the day goes on)," said Klein, a two-time B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year. "Hour by hour, the bite gets a little bit more predictable and it seems like it gets a little bit better."

Meaning that for all of the quick decisions a MLF pro must make, patience is still a virtue to hang on to.

"You've got to go out there and do what you know how to do," said Klein. "(But) you've got to keep an open mind (as the day goes along)."

Especially since Ray Roberts, which Klein first learned he would be fishing when the truck pulled into the parking lot, can grow some big ones.

"One thing about Texas, they grow them here. There's a lot of nice fish in the state of Texas. But there's a lot of numbers too."

Meaning that someone may get something figured out quickly, building a first- or second-period lead.

But given the size of the fish that roam Ray Roberts and the other Denton area waters, it will be a lead that is precarious at best, a single bite away from being obliterated.

As I interviewed Klein while he did tackle prep on his boat, it dawned on me that I was talking to one of the best bass anglers of all-time, a seasoned pro with plenty of reason to be satisfied with his career.

But then again, anyone who knows Gary Klein, the competitor quickly sees that the fire still burns fiercely within and he is never truly satisfied unless he's sitting on the stage with the winner's trophy in hand.

He hopes that this event’s action in Texas will give him the first MLF cup that he so greatly wants. And he's going to lean heavily on a couple of decades worth of experience to make that happen.

So does that experience give him a game-plan going into Day One?

Maybe.

"My past (experience) tells me that in the state of Texas, in the fall on man-made reservoirs, the cooler the nights we get, the more the fish start relating to creek channels," he offered.

"That's one thing that has been a staple for years."

But then again, the always unknown factor that exists in Major League Fishing means that Klein needs to know which part of Ray Roberts he is fishing … he didn't as this interview was conducted.

Not to mention what the day's conditions out on the lake will turn out to be, something he will not know until after his 15-minute ride-around has occurred.

"I don't know what's going to happen, I don't know where I'm going to be fishing (yet)," said Klein.

"Once I get a chance to study the map (on his MLF boat electronics), the first thing I'm going to do is look for lead-ins, creek channels coming off of a major flat and going back into the lake."

He cautions that such map study and electronics observation must be balanced against the present realities on the water.

"The one thing I do know (right now) is that in the state of Texas, the water has been down (from the drought). All of these reservoirs around the Metroplex have been down five to ten feet over the last two or three years."

Klein says that information has to be factored into the equation before MLF competitors can get a handle on what's going on out there.

No matter how much experience they may or may not have on Texas waters in the fall.

"You have to ask yourself the question, 'Where do these fish have the chance to migrate to now?,' " he said. "Because you're almost getting to the point where you have a different class of fish that never knew that way back up the river (even) existed."

With that, Klein turned to go about the business of the day, trying to figure out how to catch them better than the other seven anglers competing on the first day of the 2014 Shell Rotella Challenge Cup .

As he did so, it was with a smile and a mind brimming full of confidence for one of the Lone Star State's adopted angling sons.

After years of experience, Klein knows how to play the game anywhere. Even in Texas during a drought, playing the Major League Fishing way.

Klein is one of the best in the game, one of the best in history. But despite all that he's accomplished, he still hungers for more success.

Especially deep in the heart of his home state of Texas, a place where the challenge of winning a Jack Link's Major League Fishing title is now at hand in Denton.

Don't bet against him.

NOTE: Elimination Day One of the 2014 Shell Rotella Challenge Cup will premiere April 5 at 3 p.m. ET on Outdoor Channel. Check here for the full schedule.