by Kevin Short
So imagine that youâ€™re fishing a 2-day club derby championship and you absolutely wail on ’em the first day. Iâ€™m talking you crush â€˜em. Smoke â€˜em. Blast â€˜em. Absolutely kill â€˜em and youâ€™re leading the derby by several pounds at the end of the first day.
Youâ€™ve figured out a bait and a technique thatâ€™s a weirdo kind of deal, but itâ€™s working in a big way. Youâ€™re one, if not the only, dude in the club on the pattern and you feel you can haul home the hardware.
But by the morning of the second day, allÂ your competitors know exactly what lure youâ€™re throwing and have a pretty good idea of where youâ€™re chunking it. Bummer, eh?
That must be what Jason Christie felt like at the Bassmaster Classic on Grand. By the end of day 1, the fans knew EXACTLY what bait he was throwing and had a pretty good idea of where he was throwing it, thanks to the live coverage from B.A.S.S. So did the other 54 anglers in the field.
Is that a bad thing? Are we changing the outcome of derbies with our infatuation with instant access, self-gratification, johnny-on-the-spot coverage? And if we are affecting the outcome, is that a bad thing or does it really matter?
Back to 2009
The first blue trophy I hoisted was in 2009, and I honestly believeÂ I won it because I was able to keep everyone else out of the small slough that I fished. I was able to do this by asking my camera boat driver to park at the narrow mouth of the slough. This was intentional because I didnâ€™t want him following me in the shallow water and stirring it up.
What I didnâ€™t count on was him parking his boat across the mouth so that no one else came in, including the monster airboat that ran through every other slough in the area that day. If I hadnâ€™t asked my man to park it at the mouth, that airboat would have wrecked my little slice of heaven for hours, I have no doubt.
The few spectator boats that did figure out where I was fishing stopped at the mouth, watched from a distance while visiting with the camera boat driver, then moved on. The rest is history and the hardware is on my shelf.
But that was 2009 and the coverage was much less than what we have today. Photos of where and how we were fishing were posted the evening the derby ended at the soonest. I remember doing Bass Zone Live with the Legend and Mark Jeffreys that evening. That was the fastest coverage that we had then.
Now we have live coverage in select boats on the water. Up-to-the-minute footage of what anglers are doing all day long. Baits, techniques, locations â€“ itâ€™s all there for everyone to see.
That’s fantastic for the hardcore fans of bassin’…but what does all this instant gratification do to “further the sport?” Iâ€™m curious what the bassinâ€™ fans of the world (you) think about this subject.
Do you want all-access, up-to-the-minute coverage of every derby? B.A.S.S. seems to think you do, as they seem to be putting more emphasis every year on live coverage and more coverage. I can see the day coming in the future when the TV show a week after the derby is of no use because bassin’ fans will already have seen everything there is to see.
It has an effect
Donâ€™t think for a minute that live coverage of an event doesnâ€™t affect the outcome of events. Iâ€™ve watched and fished enough MLF events now to know that the Score Tracker updates affect the outcome. Those updates get in some guys’ heads and spin them out just as much as they motivate other competitors.
Before the 25 Classic anglers left the dock that Sunday morning from Wolf Creek, they and their marshals or cameramen were strictly instructed to NOT look at or divulge BASSTrakk info to the anglers. Every angler was fishing blind to the rest of the field, just like they had been the first 2 days of the derby. That day, every angler in the field â€“ except the leader the first 2 days (Jason) â€“ had no idea where he stood in the standings.
Jason alone knew something: He knew he was no longer the leader because he was told early in the day by Mr. Random Fan sitting on his back porch that E2 had already boxed 25 lbs.
Oopsie. I remember seeing the live feed at that time and thinking “Oh fuuuuudge.” Standing there watching, I could only imagine the wheels spinning in Christie’s head at that moment.
I imagined myself in that position: Where does that put me? How much do I have in the livewell? How much do I need to catch to pass him? Do I need to change? How? What? Where?
Put yourself in that position. What would you have done?
Did that unsolicited announcement from Mr. Random Fan change the outcome of the 2016 Bassmaster Classic? After being rock solid for 2 days, did that simple utterance from a fan who had seen BASSTrakk spin out a man who had been seemingly unstoppable?
In no way am I taking anything away from Evers, who won a dramatic Classic victory that was well-deserved. He went off the last day, did something totally different and cracked them. Props.
Iâ€™ll always wonder, though: If Christie had no idea he was no longer in the lead that day, would he have kept his head down and caught enough to win? Maybe. Maybe not. Weâ€™ll never know.
[To read Jay Kumar’s take on TMI, click here.]