Original Caption: Gary Klein bags final catch in Alabama Invitational. May 1989, The Montgomery Advisor, Staff photo by Alan Polk.

Today’s Throwback Thursday historical photo, Klein’s Year, takes us back to 1989 and the conclusion of the Bassmaster Alabama Invitational.  Although Gary Klein would finish in 66th spot in that event, more importantly it would clinch the 1989 Angler of the Year title for the then 31-year-old professional.  It would be his first of two AOY titles over his career with B.A.S.S.  Although it was a close title chase, Klein was able to hold off both Tommy Martin and Hank Parker.

“To me, this is one of the greatest achievements I’ve ever accomplished,” said Klein.”  Although most of the public doesn’t give the Angler of the Year much recognition, I think it is the most prestigious award in competitive angling.

“Normally, the public’s hero is the Bassmaster Classic Champion, but the Classic is only one tournament and there have been a lot of Classic winners come and go.”

According to the news story with the picture, “Klein entered his first Bassmaster tournament with a $1,000 loan from a bank. He finished 10th and then went on to win his next B.A.S.S. tournament.”

“That was my break – I had borrowed $1,000 from the bank and was almost broke,” he said. “This win gave me $11,000 and automatically qualified me for the Bassmasters Classic.”

The AOY winner that year received a $12,000 check, an automobile and thousands of dollars’ worth of promotional opportunities, according to the story. It went on to discuss why professional angling was the only career choice for Gary, and how he selects tackle and develops techniques.