A new technology called Kyte brought fast online news and fun, uncut video to fans who were following last week's Bassmaster Elite Series regular-season finale, the Ramada Champion's Choice on Oneida Lake.
Kyte part camera, part cell phone technology added another dimension to the Bassmaster.com real-time coverage of the event.
An online, mobile video platform for live and on-demand content, Kyte is as quick, timely and fun as Twitter, but with high-quality video and audio instead of word strings. Viewers can watch the Kyte-produced action online with a computer, iPhone or Nokia unit. They did, in droves, as fans tallied more than 240,000 views of the more than 90 videos posted.
BASS emcee Keith Alan and ESPN Outdoors television personality Mark Zona were the Kyte reporters from the Oneida event. They often ventured far behind the scenes, catching everything from on-board action to pros' thoughts as they waited at the tanks for their turn on stage.
Alan, for example, interviewed Elite pro Randy Howell as he prepped his tackle. The report was posted live or nearly live at Bassmaster.com.
Zona hit the water, hitching a ride through the four days of competition with top Oneida title contenders, such as Greg Hackney. Zona caught the action as Hackney pulled fish after fish on board and chronicled fish catches from Skeet Reese, as well as Dean Rojas' near 4-pounder. Like Alan's, Zona's reports were available for viewing online.
Kyte shows from Oneida are still available for viewing on demand at Bassmaster.com.
ESPN Outdoors plans to use the Kyte technology extensively during the inaugural Bassmaster Elite Series postseason. The Sept. 10-18 Toyota Trucks Championship Week will end with the crowning of a new Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year.
Kyte reporters will hit the competition waters of Lake Jordan and the Alabama River, and weigh-in venues in Wetumpka and Montgomery, Ala., for behind-the-scenes coverage.
Other types of emerging technologies will still be used to bring the Elite postseason to fans. BASSTrakk technology, for example, compiles catch statistics, which are posted online. BASSCast allows an online viewer to witness a pro's every cast. Live, streaming video of weigh-ins a standard for years in BASS event coverage will be on ESPN360.com, ESPN's live broadband sports network.
TRUST IN MATH
Last March, Billy McCaghren bore the slap of a 95th-place finish in his first Bassmaster Elite Series tournament on Texas' Lake Amistad.
Five months and seven tournaments later, the pro from Mayflower, Ark., pocketed his first Bassmaster Classic invitation. He made the list for the 2010 Classic because he ranked 27th in the Elite Series' Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. Only the top 37 qualified; the full Elite list for the Feb. 19-21 Classic was announced Sunday and can be found at Bassmaster.com.
"It feels really good to make the Classic," an elated McCaghren said. "It's what I set out to do when I began the season."
And if icing can appear before the cake arrives, then winning the title of Bassmaster Elite Series Rookie of the Year on Saturday was indeed a sweet topping to his season.
The points show how McCaghren earned the rewards. First, he dealt with the 95th-place start by keeping his faith in his decision to move up to the Elite level. It wasn't a smooth recovery, but he steadily gained ground in the standings until Kentucky Lake.
"Before Kentucky Lake, I thought I was making my move," he said. "Then I had a pretty bad tournament at Kentucky (63rd), and thought I had lost my chance."
Simple math showed the way.
"I looked at the points, and saw I was 22 places off. I told myself that if I could make up 11 places at Iowa, and 11 more at Oneida, I'd still have a shot at it. You always hope that if you fish the best that you can, sooner or later you are going to have a tournament where you really find the fish. For me that was Iowa."
Iowa was the site of the Genuity River Rumble, on the Mississippi River out of Fort Madison. Often called a river rat (although he'll quickly points out that he grew up fishing lakes, too), McCaghren took home the third-place check from Iowa.
Backed by the points he figured he needed, he then moved on to the Aug. 13-16 regular-season finale, the Ramada Champion's Choice on Oneida Lake out of Syracuse, N.Y. A 25th-place finish earned enough points for a Classic berth and ROY honors.
The Arkansas angler began the season with another goal: do well enough in 2009 to qualify for the 2010 Elite season. The top 83 are invited back.
McCaghren said he plans to compete in 2010, but first he'll turn his attention to the Classic.
"I'm going into it to win," he said. "I'm not going just to be happy to be there."
JUMP FOR JOY
Famous for fishing with his signature frog lures, Dean Rojas executed a little frog leap of sorts himself when he jumped ahead of 19 pros to qualify for the 2010 Bassmaster Classic.
After last Sunday's regular-season wrap on New York's Oneida Lake, Rojas vaulted from 44th place to 25th place in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings.
The pro from Lake Havasu City, Ariz., left Oneida last season with a winner's trophy in hand. This year, he finished in third place and more than enough points to earn his eighth Classic berth.
"I feel absolutely wonderful," Rojas said about qualifying. "To make it to the big show is something you strive for all year long; but being down in 44th then coming back up makes this special."
He said the 2009 Oneida event was half finished before he began to feel somewhat secure in his Classic chances.
"Friday when I made the top-50 cut, I was about 90 percent sure I was going to make the Classic," he said. "After weigh-in on Saturday, I knew. But I still went for the win."
The Bassmaster Classic is set for Feb. 19-21 on Lay Lake out of Birmingham, Ala., site of three past Classic competitions. Rojas competed in one of those the 2007 Classic and finished 10th.
A THING FOR LAY LAKE
Jason Quinn of York, S.C., neatly slid under the points cut line at the last minute this past weekend to secure a 2010 Bassmaster Classic entry. His margin was a mere 10 points from the cut line. This will be his fifth Classic.
Coincidentally, two of Quinn's four Classic competitions have been on Lay Lake, the Coosa River fishery that will be the site of the 2010 Classic, again out of Birmingham, Ala. Competition days are Feb. 19-21.
Although 2009 Bassmaster Classic champion Skeet Reese of Auburn, Calif., finished with the most regular-season points in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings, 2008 Bassmaster AOY Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., took the lead in postseason points heading into Toyota Trucks Championship Week.
VanDam leads the top 12 into the postseason by virtue of his Smith Mountain Lake Elite victory during the regular season. He earned two bonus points for the accomplishment, as did Tommy Biffle and Mark Menendez for their respective Elite victories. Each postseason event will be scored on a 50-point sliding scale, with first place earning 50 points and 12th earning 10. Points will be awarded based on finish in each of the two postseason events.
VanDam leads Reese by a mere one point in the standings, and the leaderboard is packed tight, with all competitors within striking distance of the lead. The postseason will kick off Sept. 12-13 on Alabama's Lake Jordan out of Wetumpka. The full list of qualifiers can be found at Bassmaster.com.