We will see tomorrow the first results of the serendipity that brought Jack Link's Major League Fishing competition to Chautauqua Lake at the end of last summer .
The first episode of the unique fishing tournament will air nationally at 9 p.m. Thursday on the Outdoor Channel. The final championship round will be broadcast on the NBC network at 1 p.m. Feb. 9 and then again on the Outdoor Channel the following week.
As you recall, this designed-for-TV fishing tournament drew 24 top professional bass anglers to our region. Chautauqua Lake is home to bass tournaments every summer, of course. But Jack Link's Major League Fishing is not a typical fishing show. Rather it is specifically designed to make the competition exciting enough to draw a TV audience week after week.
For example, the 24 champion bass fishermen were told the location of the competition only two days before fishing begins. They were not allowed practice time nor could they use stored GPS waypoints. The anglers competed with no limit on the number of legal fish they could catch, weigh and release. With a judge and cameraman on each boat, results were computed immediately. In addition, each boat was equipped with real-time leaderboards so the anglers - and TV audience - know exactly where they stand in the competition. Competitors are eliminated as the episodes go along until the championship round determines the winner.
This all came about because the executive producer, Randy White, came to Chautauqua Lake as a cameraman on another fishing show about 10 years ago. Craig Robbins, fishing and hunting director for Chautauqua County, said when White needed a location for this year's Major League Fishing tournament, he remembered the good fishing here - and the rest you will see on TV starting tomorrow evening.
The tournament drew hundreds of people - sponsors, vendors, camera crews - who were welcome to use Chautauqua Institution as their headquarters. But the most important element that played a starring role was the lake itself. We understand Chautauqua Lake produced a superb week of fishing -offering up monster-size bass. The fishermen, we were told, loved our lake, both for its lively fishing as well as the beauty or the surrounding countryside.
As we noted earlier, the enormity of our region's good fortune in falling into this out-of-the-ballpark chance to have the world see our lake at its best is beyond measure. So sit back and enjoy seeing our lake and region the way hundreds of thousands of people will be seeing it for the first time over the next few weeks.
We have been promised it is an excellent show.