The Bassmasters chronicles the competition from each Bassmaster Elite Series event. The coverage of Elite Series events presents a unique challenge to producers, because of a playing field with seemingly endless boundaries and a sport that prides itself on split-second decisions. The one-hour program is one of the highest-rated outdoors programs on television.
JM Associates, a wholly owned subsidiary of Career Sports and Entertainment, produces the program. JM was started by Jerry McKinnis, who hosted The Fishin’ Hole on ESPN2 for 26 years and is now one of the owners of B.A.S.S.
JM puts cameras on the water for the final day of competition. As many as 12 cameras can be on the water at one time, shooting roughly 140 tapes and approximately 70 hours of footage to produce the one hour telecast. But that’s not all. On the water and in the sky, the producers of The Bassmasters employ a helicopter at top-level events to get aerial shots during the morning launch and throughout the tournament day. These shots have provided some memorable moments for fishing fans.
More than 300 hours of footage contribute to the ingesting, editing, studio production and graphics that it takes to produce the one-hour show. Furthermore, production of The Bassmasters requires the work of almost 30 broadcast staff in the field and in the studio to produce each episode.
Hosted by Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona, The Bassmasters serves fishing fanatics with the most comprehensive how-to, where-to information about how Elite Series pros tackle a body of water. The show provides in-depth analysis on lure choice, fish management, the mental approach to fishing and countless other variables that affect the competition.
Zona, often the source of comic relief, is no stranger to B.A.S.S. tournaments, posting a career-best third-place finish at a 2005 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open event on Lake Champlain. Sanders, who was recently inducted into the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame, mixes in entertainment and information in superb fashion. And the show has received critical acclaim; the production of the 2008 Bassmaster Classic earned a Sports Emmy nomination for Outstanding Live Event Turnaround category.
Throughout the past few years, fishing fans have become acquainted with the “war room,” where Zona and Sanders stand over an image of the fishery at which the Elite Series event is taking place. This is accomplished through a computer-generated map, which uses satellite information to lay out the underwater geographic contours of the fishery.
Additionally, in a sport where many of the athletes are just as interesting as the competition, The Bassmasters allows Elite Series pros to showcase their personalities in addition to providing a vehicle to promote their personal brand and their individual sponsors.
The Bassmasters continues to set the industry standard for television fishing content.
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