GEICO Selects: Klein Knew What Was Coming

by Randy Coleman

When Major League Fishing kicked off its first-ever GEICO Select event this past week in Muskogee, Oklahoma, a highly interested stakeholder was on hand to observe.

That stakeholder/observer was Weatherford, Texas, angler Gary Klein, who said he “wouldn’t have missed this event for anything.”

“In a way, we were making a little piece of history for our sport, and I wanted to see how it unfolded,” said Klein.

“We’ve come a long way at Major League Fishing in a relatively short time,” he said. “Getting the Selects going is a major step. And it was the right next step. I mean, I just didn’t feel like I could miss it.”

The event – Bass Pro Shops Summit Select, presented by BACAS – was filmed on a variety of lakes in the Muskogee, Oklahoma, region. The Summit Select will first be offered this fall as a two-plus-hour, web-based production. It will be shown in early 2015 as a series on Outdoor Channel.

Klein’s intense interest stemmed from the fact that he and fellow Major League Fishing angler Boyd Duckett, played critical roles in shaping MLF. Duckett had planned to join Klein in Muskogee, but business conflicts kept Duckett away.

Major League Fishing is a joint venture between Outdoor Channel and Major League Fishing’s competitive anglers. Four years ago, as the concept that was to become Major League Fishing began to emerge, the founding anglers asked Klein and Duckett to be their representatives. The two anglers created what they believed was a bold, but doable, format for a new competition television show that featured penalties, leaderboards and counting every “scorable” fish.

Don Rucks, Major League Fishing’s commissioner, had coincidentally been developing a similarly themed idea for a show. In a nutshell, Rucks, Klein, Duckett and a small handful of other contributors honed the format that Major League Fishing now utilizes.

“Boyd and I have worked together on our part of this for more than four years. We’ve had a great partnership with Outdoor Channel, and because of that partnership we were able to get on the air in 2012,” Klein said.

“And now the bottom line is that Major League Fishing has become so popular we had no choice but to expand. I mean, we wanted to expand, but the reality is we almost had to. People have wanted to see more MLF, and a lot of pro anglers want to be a part of MLF.”

So, for many reasons, Klein felt he had a strong stake in how the first Select event came off. And Klein said he had a specific agenda in his mind while he was in Muskogee.

“I wanted to be there to see the anglers’ faces and talk to them after they compete for the first time in Major League Fishing. I wanted to look them in their eyes,” Klein said.

“I told a lot of them going in, ‘Dude, you just need to prepare yourself as much as you can. When you get out there, it’s going to be the most intense competitive experience you’ve ever been in.’”

Klein said the feedback has been just what he expected.

“I’ve had anglers calling me this week, telling me what an unbelievable experience this is. What the anglers are telling me is that they just can’t believe the intensity,” Klein said.

“I just had to smile. I knew what they were in for.”

The Muskogee event will get its first airing on a series of web-based pay-per-view shows that will be offered through Major League Fishing’s web site.

The event will be televised on Outdoor Channel beginning in January 2015.

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