Most anglers wouldn’t argue that technology adds something to the modern fishing trip, but the question of whether or not it has a place in modern fishing tournaments exploded earlier this year at the 2013 Bassmaster Classic, and continues to be an issue in many competitive fishing match-ups.
The Bassmaster Classic controversy surrounded the BASSTrakk system, a new technology from B.A.S.S. that would have made the fishing tournament – already the Holy Grail of the competitive fishing world – easier for the general public to follow from afar. The BASSTrakk system, essentially a real-time scoreboard, was an attempt by B.A.S.S. to engage the public further in the goings-on of the 2013 Bassmaster Classic.
The technology allows fishing enthusiasts to keep up with their favorite competitive anglers via a BASSTrakk Twitter feed, as well as a scoreboard keeping track of how many fish each angler has caught and what their current collective fish weight is.
Furthermore, B.A.S.S. wanted to make the scoreboard available to all anglers in the field at this year’s Bassmaster Classic, in an effort to breed an even more competitive atmosphere.
Bassmaster anglers didn’t have a problem with the BASSTrakk system displaying their scores and personal fishing information to a virtual scoreboard for the public to see. After all, considering the sprawling nature of the lakes where the Bassmaster Classic usually takes place, the fishing event isn’t exactly the most spectator-friendly competition in the world of sports, and real-time scores and statistics would have made it more fun to follow for fishing enthusiasts far and wide.
What anglers did have a problem with was the other new feature that the BASSTrakk system would have unveiled.
In addition to a scoreboard, BASSTrakk would have allowed both spectators and Bassmaster anglers to view where their competitors were fishing on a virtual, GPS-like map. All 53 anglers at the 2013 Bassmaster Classic complained about the map, most of them saying that it was fine for the public to have access to angler locations, but that such information should be hidden from actual competitors. After all, an angler who finds a goldmine of hungry fish might think he has a fast track on a Bassmaster title, but could easily lose his chance at the lead if every other angler in the field saw his position on a map and decided to try their luck at his spot.
Thus, BASSTrakk remained mostly absent from this year’s Bassmaster Classic, still providing score totals and map locations to the public, but not serving the competitors as had been intended. Is this the way of the future? Audiences taking advantage of technological innovations, but competitive anglers purposefully keeping themselves in the dark?
It’s not difficult to see how a GPS map could unfairly impact a major fishing competition, especially one as a high-stakes as the Bassmaster Classic. However, the BASSTrakk system and other technological fishing aids still bring interesting ideas to the table, and we shouldn’t reject them all automatically.
Sure, some technological aids offer unfair advantages, but others—including a virtual, real-time scoreboard—may well have a place in competitive fishing. Every other sport has evolved with technology: why shouldn’t fishing?