Okay, now that BassFIRST.com has the For the love of the game series rolling, one thing is starting to become evident with almost every angler interviewed. That thing is love or a passion for fishing. Not just tournament competition, but fishing in general. So far in this series, every angler has said if they weren't fishing for a living, they'd still be out fishing multiple days per week.
The passion may be driven by different things for the individual, but the passion for fishing is there regardless of the catalyst.
Berkley pro Gary Klein. (Joel Shangle/BassFIRST)
Berkley pro Gary Klein has been slinging baits after bass for cash on the national level since 1979. Originally a California dude, you can still hear it in his voice, he's been a Texas resident for a long time now. BassFIRST caught up with this legendary pro at his ranch while he was taking a break from turkey hunting, as he had free time since an event he was scheduled to fish was postponed.
Passion for fishing is what drives Klein to keep on fighting to achieve at the highest levels.
"Seriously, it's passion for fishing that has kept me going for all of these years," said Klein. "I don't believe any angler fishing at the highest levels will have any longevity in the sport if they don't have a powerful passion for fishing."
Ever evolving gear and the deep desire to learn his craft are another key element of Klein's long-term success as a professional angler.
"As the years pass in the sport, you learn to navigate the lows, the highs, decisions you've made. It is so intriguing to me. I basically have grown up in this sport. It's changed so much. That change and the desire to keep learning kindles the drive in me.
"With all of the new gear coming out every year, it keeps getting better and better. Now you can head out and cast all day. When I started as a pro, you never knew if you would make it back. There were a lot of equipment failures and other mechanical issues. You never knew what would go wrong.
"The industry was forced to keep improving products. It all lead to better products for anglers and a better fishing experience. It's wonderful. I never worry about what I use now."
Klein suggests up-and-coming tournament anglers need to get their foundational knowledge in order to have long-term success.
"New anglers need to learn the basics," said Klein. "Not just the mechanical part of the sport, but the true knowledge. Learn about each species you are fishing for. What they do at different times of the year, in different bodies of water, under various weather conditions. You need to take the time and figure this out. When you do, you put yourself in the position to be successful anywhere you fish.
"Careers in this sport are not made by winning one or two individual events. The best in the world are fishing at the highest levels now. It is a very exciting time to be a part of this sport."