Mercury Pro Gary Klein has Million Reasons to Smile

Eighth tour victory lands him in Mercury’s and BASS’s Millionaire Clubs


BAINBRIDGE, Ga. – Feb. 9, 2003 --  A final-round limit of five fish weighing 14 pound 5 ounces helped Texan Gary Klein claim his eighth career victory Sunday at the CITGO Bassmaster Tour event on Lake Seminole. He also became the fourth Mercury Marine professional angler to join the seven-member BASS millionaires club.

Klein had climbed into the lead on the second day, then held steady when the field was narrowed to 12 Saturday and to the Super Six on Sunday. He took a lead of 9 pounds into the final round.
Anglers faced poor weather conditions during the competition with low temperatures and intermittent rain.  

It was Klein’s first victory since 1996. He joined the tour in the late 1970s.

 "I finally got the monkey off my back and made it into the million dollar club," said Klein, who claimed $100,000 for his 69-pound, 15-ounce four-day total. "It is an honor for me to win this title against the crowd I fished against all week. Any of these guys could win any day."

    Kotaro Kiriyama of New Jersey finished second with 63 pounds, 15 ounces.

 Mercury powered five of the top six finishers at Lake Seminole. It included third-place finisher Casey Iwai with 59-7, who picked up his biggest paycheck ($23,000) since joining the BASS pro circuit. This was Iwai’s second top 10- finish and the highest for the 20-year old from Laveen, Ariz. Finishing fourth was Luke Clausen, Washington, with 54-10, while Florida’s Shaw Grigsby and Jim Bitter pulled down fifth (52-11) and sixth (49-4), respectively. 

 Klein is now tied with Grigsby and Bill Dance for fifth on the BASS career-victories list. Longtime Mercury pro Roland Martin holds the distinction as the all-time leader with 19 wins, followed by Larry Nixon with 14.  Rick Clunn and Denny Brauer are tied for third with 13 wins apiece.  

Klein also joins fellow Mercury pros Clunn, Grigsby and Kevin Van Dam on the list of fishing millionaires. Martin is some $80,000 away from joining the list.  

 Klein’s win at Lake Seminole will be telecast on ESPN2 Saturday, Feb. 15, at 10:30 a.m. (ET).

This was the third of 10 stops on the pro tour, which crosses the nation before the 33rd CITGO

BassMasters Classic in New Orleans, La, August 1 - 3.  The next event is scheduled for Feb. 20-23 on Toledo Bend Reservoir near Many, La.

Bitter leads BASS Angler of the Year Standings

 The sixth-place finish boosted Bitter’s lead in the BASS Angler of the Year standings.  With another sixth place and a 19th place finish in the three pro events this year, Bitter earned a $1,000 bonus for maintaining his top position.  Bitter cushioned his former 16-point lead to a now 38-point lead over Florida rookie Terry Scroggins in the quest for the $100,000 bonus from Anheuser-Busch at the season finale.   

Scroggins who won his first tour victory at Lake Okeechobee, the second tour stop, leads Skeet Reese, by 17 points.  Reese, California, won at the first pro stop at Florida’s Harris Chain of Lakes.  Klein is in fourth place just three points behind Reese and 58 off of Bitter. 

In the meantime, Scroggins is in the lead for the Rookie of the Year honors.


CITGO Bassmaster Tour presented by Busch Beer
  Lake Seminole; Bainbridge, Ga.
  P r o    S t a n d i n g s    D a y    4
     Angler                   Hometown             No./lbs-oz  Pts Total $$$

  1. Gary Klein             Weatherford, Texas     19   69-15  175  $100,000
    Day 1: 5   19-02  Day 2: 5   17-03  Day 3: 4   19-05  Day 4: 5   14-05
  2. Kotaro Kiriyama        New Milford, N.J.      19   63-15  174   $38,000
    Day 1: 4   11-00  Day 2: 5   19-08  Day 3: 5   15-15  Day 4: 5   17-08
  3. Casey Iwai             Laveen, Ariz.          20   59-07  173   $23,000
    Day 1: 5   17-13  Day 2: 5   10-12  Day 3: 5   16-15  Day 4: 5   13-15
  4. Luke Clausen           Veradale, Wash.        20   54-10  172   $20,000
    Day 1: 5   19-10  Day 2: 5    8-06  Day 3: 5   15-15  Day 4: 5   10-11
  5. Shaw E Grigsby, Jr     Gainesville, Fla.      19   52-11  171   $17,000
    Day 1: 5   10-09  Day 2: 5   17-11  Day 3: 5   17-02  Day 4: 4    7-05
  6. Jim Bitter             Fruitland Park, Fla.   17   49-04  170   $15,000
    Day 1: 5   15-10  Day 2: 5   17-10  Day 3: 5    7-10  Day 4: 2    8-06

Busch BASS Angler of the Year Standings
Place  Name               State            Pts
1. Jim Bitter                  Fla.          497
2. Terry Scroggins                   Fla.          459
3. Skeet Reese              Calif.        442
4. Gary Klein                  Texas      439