On Tuesday, April 6th, Elite Series pro Kevin Short fished a watershed lake in central Arkansas live on Bassmaster.com. This was his column written before the event. If you watched, please leave your feedback in the comments section.
"You can write about anything you want. The only thing you can't do is call me or Jerry McKinnis a jerk."
With those words, my semi-illustrious internet writing career was born. The time was January 2004. The "me" in the above sentence was Steve Bowman. The media was a fledgling little website known as "FishFactory.com." Don't bother looking — it's online no longer.
Probably some lawyers or bean counters or other little round glasses wearing types involved in that one.
I had done some simple reporting of tournament results for several sites for a couple of years, but it was pretty cut and dried: he caught, they caught, on this bait type stuff. My content for FishFactory? Whatever happened to cross my path during my rookie season on the 2004 Bassmaster Tour.
At the time, there were other fishing related sites on the internet, but most of them were geared more towards reporting tournament results, fishing reports, or how-to articles. Few sites delved into a behind-the-scenes, man-on-the-street, down-in-the-trenches, gritty editorial stuff that we tackled on FishFactory.
"Chat rooms" (remember those?) were relatively new on the scene and a whole new breed of internet expert was born. Fishing fans were quickly tiring of waiting weeks or months for news from the tournament scene. They wanted info and they wanted it "Now."
It's interesting to think back to those early years and see how far we've come in a short period of time. The first "big" tournament that I won was a Mr. Bass of Arkansas Pro-Am in February of 2000. I was lucky that the outdoor editor for the Democrat-Gazette was at the tournament and I not only got a few lines in the next day's edition, but also a photo.
If not for his attendance, the results might have shown up on the following Thursday or even the next Sunday. Seems like a long time lag now, but in 2000, getting your photo, especially a fishing related story or photo, in the next day's edition of a local newspaper, was like manna from heaven that required a lot of hasty, last minute work by the editors of said newspaper.
Today, fans of fishing sit in their offices or homes flipping through photos of the morning's launch of the latest Elite Series event while watching the leaderboard and the actual weigh-in LIVE on their computers. We can walk down the street and watch the video on devices that we hold in the palm of our hand.
Who would have ever thought? Several years back, I used to think it was pretty cool to see the results from Sunday's derby show up on a Web site by Tuesday of the following week. Now we have those same results literally within minutes of the close of the scales. Crazy stuff.
What's on the horizon? It has to be the emerging video technologies that we're seeing. With the advent of dependable, high quality Smartphones and video devices that can stream video over a wireless carrier, we can now spend a day on the water with our favorite angler without leaving the comfort of our office or home.
On Tuesday, in fact, you'll be able to do just that, as you join Yours Truly for a day on the water in central Arkansas chasing bass.
Live, uncut, no recording, no loops, no editing and no telling what will happen; those are just a few of the things you can look forward to on Tuesday morning. I can tell and show you what I'm using, how I'm using it, where I'm using it, and why I'm using it without having to make sure it fits in with a story line — because there ain't no story line!
The baits, the line, the rod, the water temp, water color, depth; all that stuff that there just simply isn't enough time even during a one-hour television show, we're going to cover it. We'll even have it set up so that you can ask questions during the day for a truly interactive experience.
Story line? We don't need no stinking story line, we're going to make up the story as we go along. Maybe I'll catch a boat load of fatty's or it might just be a few little rats. Whatever happens, I'm looking forward to having you, the fan, right there in the boat with me on Tuesday.
For more info on Kevin Short or to contact Kevin, check out his Web site at www.kfshort.com.