An eye-catching moment unfolded amid the Day 2 weigh-in at the Bassmaster Elite Toyota Trucks Diamond Drive event on Lake Dardanelle. There amid 100 pros jockeying for a spot to tie up their boats and take their bass to the stage was Gary Klein — using his cell phone to take pictures of a paper doll.
Seriously. Klein turned off the big Mercury, stowed his 7′ fiberglass Quantum rod, and Performance Tuned 6.3:1 reel, and picked up a paper doll. Arm stretched outward, he began photographing the paper doll known as Flat Stanley with his cell phone as though nobody was watching – and frankly, he didn’t seem to care if they were.
Here’s the deal, Klein, a mind-boggling 27-time Classic qualifier, plays a more important role than the bass busting, flippin’ and pitchin’ guru we know him to be. He’s a dad to two daughters and husband to wife Jana. And for the first half of this Elite Series Season, Klein is the traveling partner to a fictional book-based paper doll known as Flat Stanley®.
Klein’s youngest daughter, 12 year-old Sierra, has a school project centered on the 1964 children’s book, and Dad is doing his part. The Flat Stanley project was started as a school project by a London, Ontario third grade teacher in 1995. The paper doll’s purpose is to facilitate letter writing by school children as they track Flat Stanley’s travels. And who better to show him a good portion of the U.S. than a touring bass pro like Gary Klein.
“Flat Stanley started traveling with me at Lake Amistad. I snap photos of him in front of recognizable landmarks in the various towns the Elites Series takes us to. I also have to collect literature about places that are famous to those various areas. At Dardanelle, I took time to collect brochures about the caverns and mining areas in Arkansas. My daughter will then take the literature and photos I snap, and write a story about Flat Stanley’s travels,” explained the long-time Quantum pro.
The Kleins are a team. The girls traveled with Gary in the earliest portions of their life and Jana home-schooled them. Now, Lakota and Sierra go to public school, and when Dad comes home between tournaments time is spent chasing turkeys and deer on their ranch near Weatherford, Texas. “Lakota shot her first buck at age 6,” said the proud pop.
“This week while we’re fishing near Huntsville, Alabama, I’m going to take Flat Stanley to the U.S. Space & Rocket Museum,” said Klein.
Gary Klein has always been an angler. He’s never had a ‘normal job’. He joined the pro tour at an extremely young age. And at Dardanelle, with all his peers watching, he proved he’s forever a family man.