On Water All Things Paddle

Pro surfer making waves in bass-fishing arena

Todd Kline's surfing career may be behind him, but his fishing career is just getting started

When there are waves to be had, Todd Kline prefers leaving the fish alone. Photo courtesy Jeff Flindt

When there are waves to be had, Todd Kline prefers leaving the fish alone. Photo courtesy Jeff Flindt

Todd Kline has always taken alternative paths. The former pro surfer from Florida spent a good chunk of his career living and competing in Japan before competing on the WQS. When he was the team manager at Quiksilver, Kline became a caddy and confidant for his good friend Kelly Slater, getting a front-row seat to several of his world-title runs. If he wasn’t with Slater, he was probably busy commentating in the ASP webcasting booth. Of course, one of his more memorable moments was his legendary interview with Bobby Martinez at the Quiksilver Pro New York in 2011.

His expression says it all. Kline with Bobby Martinez at the Quiksilver Pro in New York.

His expression says it all. Kline with Bobby Martinez at the Quiksilver Pro in New York

Now Kline is making headlines in a new way, dominating in bass-fishing tournaments around the western United States. It’s a hobby that’s starting to pay dividends. At a recent tournament, he even walked away with a boat! We caught up with the charismatic “Kliney” to found out more.

What drove you to compete in fishing tournaments?  

I grew up fishing from a young age in Florida. When I moved to California to pursue a career in surfing, I didn’t fish as much, mostly because water isn’t as prevalent here. But after I retired from the WQS, the drive to compete was there. I discovered the local reservoirs, began bass fishing, and within a few months jumped in the tournament scene. I was hooked, no pun intended, after the first event. I finished in 2nd place and won some cash.

Kline on the other side of the microphone.

Kline on the other side of the microphone

Is your former life as a competitive surfer helping you in any way?

I believe you have to be strong mentally in all sports, and this is very true in fishing as well. Just like surfing a heat, when things are not going your way, it’s easy to lose focus and second-guess your game plan, and that’s when the wheels fall off.

Who is the Kelly Slater of that world?

Heat winner!

Heat winner!

There really is no Kelly Slater of bass fishing, but the top guys would be Kevin VanDam or Aaron Martens. The popular guy is Mike Iaconelli. That guy is a nut and very animated at the tournaments. Edgy. He’s the Wilko of bass fishing.

Compared to surfing, what level are you competing at in the grand scheme of things? 

Haha…. Well, right now I’m kicking ass and taking names in the NSSA. The interesting thing is a lot of the events I compete in have some of the top guys fishing in them. It feels good when you beat them and gives me confidence to compete in some of the bigger events.