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Knowing The Score

2014 Challenge Cup winner Jordon finds Jack Link's Major League Fishing's SCORETRACKER LIVE a game-changer

By: Mike Suchan,

Most sports allow the competitors to see where they stand, providing the score and the time remaining, giving them a sense of what they need to do to win.

Until recently, bass anglers were only confident in when they had to check in. Major League Fishing’s innovative SCORETRACKER LIVE, which is now available to any level tournament, gives every competitors’ count and amount.

“It’s absolutely amazing,” said angler Kelly Jordon, winner of the MLF 2014 Shell Rotella Challenge Cup on Ray Roberts Lake in Denton, Texas. “It affects how you play the game. Is it Hail Mary time or is it prevent defense?”

Jordon saw both sides during Cup competition, sending a jolt through the other pros when he busted an 8-pound, 2-ounce bass early on Day Two of the Elimination Rounds. He then went into a two-minute offense to catch 7 of his 16 keepers in the final 45 minutes of the Championship Round. That rally gave him a total of 22-11 and the title, more than six pounds ahead of Gary Klein.

“It’s full-tilt exhausting, exciting, exhilarating if you catch them, demoralizing if you don’t,” he said of the format. “We get to armchair quarterback ourselves on the decisions we made, even moreso than we do in Bassmaster events, because we knew what was going on.”

2014 Challenge Cup winner Jordon finds MLF SCORETRACKER LIVE a game-changer

Bassmaster had a similar format in its Major events years ago, when the top 12 anglers were put in six specific holes and rotated throughout the day.

“You didn’t know what everybody was catching, but you knew what the guy you’re sharing the hole with was doing,” Jordon said. “It was very similar, the same kind of fishing. You don’t get to practice that area. You’ve got to stay in this boundary, and you get one hour. You do whatever you can and boop, next one.”

He said the MLF style, where anglers weigh their fish in the boat and immediately release it, is catching on. Bassmaster Elite Series events, which Jordon has fished since the circuit’s inception, have begun to give anglers an idea of where they stand through BassTrakk.

There, Marshals on the boat record the anglers’ catches, punching an estimated weight into a device that tabulates and gives anglers’ an approximate weight.

“We do know the score somewhat with BassTrakk,” Jordon said. “When we’re able to do that, I’m on top of that. I want to know.”

Knowing the real-time score does affect how the anglers tackle their fishing. Jordon said it alters how he approaches each hour of each day. He said his plan is almost always to swing for the fences.

“If I’m going to go down, I’m going to do down in flames. It’s win or go home, just like the Bassmaster Classic,” Jordon said. “Who cares who finished second, except for Aaron Martens who’s finished second like seven times. You don’t want people to remember that.

“This is all on the fly. It’s that playing field, that day on that field. You can’t play what you played yesterday. That’s part of the beauty of it. If you get hung up on what was working, you get stuck in this trap you can’t get out of.”

2014 Challenge Cup winner Jordon finds MLF SCORETRACKER LIVE a game-changer

Jordon said that happened to him in the first Cup event, when he made the four-man finals and finished fourth. It shows the kind of thought processes and second-guessing the anglers experience.

“I had a pattern that I was sure I was going to win. I kept getting drawn to that pattern,” he said. “I had a couple other patterns and could nickel and dime them …if I had done that the whole day, I would have had a real good shot at winning that event.

“I got so far behind trying to make my other stuff work, it cost me having a straight-up chance at being right there. I can’t win with this, I have to go back -- it was too late. That was really frustrating having a shot to win the first one. In hindsight, you get to go back and look over all your decisions.” While finding both heartbreak and now success in the MLF, Jordon said he’s been enjoying the competitions, even after all the anticipation leading up to the events seems to end so quickly.

“It’s like all sports -- the game is over in a blink of the eye, it all goes so fast,” he said. “It’s unbelievable, and it’s mentally exhausting … unless you’re not catching them, then you’re demoralized.”

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