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Jim Kline named bass man of year

June 17, 2002|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

Antietam Bassmasters Club founder Jim "Pint" Kline doesn't fish quite as much as he used to since the Maryland Bass Federation hooked him.

He's too busy.

The more than 1,000-member federation, a chapter of the Bass Angler Sportsman's Society, recently honored Kline as its 2001 Member of the Year and 2001 Conservation Man of the Year for his dedication to the organization's work and the sport of bass fishing.

"I'm not in it for the awards, but the recognition and respect from your other sportsmen feels good," said Kline, 52, of Hagerstown.

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He served as the federation's president after local bass fishing icon Butch Ward, a good friend, died suddenly in 1999. The position kept Kline so busy that he didn't fish for nearly a year, he said. He put about 11,000 miles on his truck driving to and from his federation duties.

Kline has since served as tournament director and organized local CastingKids competitions. He now serves as federation youth director and conservation director for Western Maryland.

He sums up the reason for his dedication to foundation causes in two words: Butch Ward.

"I'm happy to be able to walk in his footsteps and continue the tradition he had with the Maryland Bass Federation," Kline said. "Butch was Mr. Smallmouth Bass. He made a name for himself and left a legacy behind him."

Kline is following Ward's lead in getting kids involved with fishing.

He manned the weigh station and doled out extra fishing rods from his private collection at a recent fishing tournament for the young, old and disabled at Pangborn Park in Hagerstown.

He is collecting used fishing gear from other anglers to present to young fishermen at several upcoming youth tournaments he's organizing. He crafts tournament trophies from wood and leather in his basement workshop.

His conservation efforts also keep him busy.

Kline monitored the Potomac River for signs of trouble in February after millions of gallons of largely untreated wastewater flowed into Antietam Creek from the Hagerstown sewage treatment plant. He warned would-be anglers at local streams to be wary of potential dangers from the spill.

He wrote 20 letters to politicians, plant managers and natural resources officials in an effort to "get some answers" about the accident, Kline said.

"I respect our natural resources. People need to realize at any time something can happen to them," he said. "The outdoors is the greatest thing going."

Kline also combed the banks of the Potomac for signs of dead fish after a man dumped a toxic chemical into a Shepherdstown, W.Va., stream last September, he said.

He is addressing land use, the impact of development and other conservation issues through his work on a governor-appointed policy and review board at Deep Creek Lake in Garrett County, Md., he said.

Kline writes for the bi-monthly federation magazine. He will again spend his birthday this month at the Butch Ward Memorial Tournament for Paralyzed Veterans of America, a competition he helps organize.

During the day, Kline works full time as a state correctional officer in charge of a county road crew.

In his spare time, he fishes.

The competitive aspect of bass fishing drew the lifelong athlete back to the water in the late 1980s after years on the basketball courts and softball fields, he said.

"I've always been competitive. At first, angling was another way to compete," Kline said.

He often paired up with Ward to cast his lures into streams, lakes and rivers throughout the state. Kline has participated in 15 state bass fishing championships and made the state team in 1993, placing third out of more than 400 anglers.

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