AIM Introduces new Hi-Tech Tournament Format
Jun 4th, 2009 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Jun 4th, 2009 at 12:00 AM
Plymouth, WI – June 3, 2009- Anglers Insight Marketing LLC™ (AIM) announced today that it has redefined fishing tournament coverage with the successful implementation of the latest technologies.
The recently completed AIM Pro Walleye Series tournament in Bay City, Michigan was the first venue to unveil several of the Anglers Insight Marketing new technologies.
The Bay City tournament was the first 2009 event to feature the exclusive AIM “Catch-Record-Release™” (or “CRR”) format. Unlike the traditional weigh-in process that involves bringing fish to the stage for weighing on a scale, the AIM event displayed only photos and videos. Instead of placing walleyes in the livewell, the Pro Anglers and Co-angler partners measured each fish and took a series of digital photos of the walleyes on the Official AIM Judge® ruler. At least one other photo was taken with one of the anglers holding the fish, and then it was immediately released. In total, the process took less than a minute and each fish was returned to the same area it was caught, as opposed to being carried all day in the “live well”.
In past tournaments, fish that did not survive in the livewell were used as food. But dead fish do not make for good photo opportunities on stage. And dead fish contribute to the perception that tournaments have a negative impact on the fishery (although disproven by numerous DNR studies.) The live, released fish are also relocated – sometimes by 40 miles or more – from where they were caught. Then there are the penalties assessed against each angler that brings in a dead fish (typically a one-pound deduction per fish) that impact the daily bag weight and the event standings. Often, through no fault of the angler, fish die while the boats linger in warm water marinas while they await the weigh-in process.
Dennis Gulau, an AIM Co-angler at the Bay City event reported, “I specifically asked a lot of people if they missed the fish being there (at the weigh-in) and not ONE said that they did. In fact, most commented on how they were glad the dead fish were NOT brought on stage and that they were glad that the fish were released at the boat.”
Gary Parsons, an AIM Pro Angler who vaulted into the lead with a 40-pound bag after the second day of the tournament stated, “I was jigging for fish in the Saginaw River near local anglers who were fishing from the bank. Throughout the day we took turns catching fish and cheering each other on! I am confident that if I was putting these big walleyes in the livewell that I would have received a much less enthusiastic welcome. But when I released each fish I actually received applause!”
Many Pro’s entered the Bay City AIM Pro Walleye Series tournament with misgivings about the new “CRR” format. After all, many Pros had over 20 years of experience with the old livewell process. But they quickly became converts after realizing the time savings involved with the elimination of monitoring the operation and temperature of their livewells all day for three days, trying to revive fish, releasing air bladder pressure in fish from deep water, and more. After just a few fish, the Pros and Co-anglers formed a smooth process that became second nature.
The “CRR” process is expected to gain more enthusiastic reviews when the AIM Pro Walleye series tournaments move to waters with “slot limits”. Typically, these local slot limits allow the possession of only specific fish, and exclude others (from 22″ to 28″, for example.) Of course, the AIM “CRR” format is excluded from slot limits because no fish are kept, allowing the angler to record all the fish caught. Joe Okada, another AIM Pro Angler related, “The CRR process rocks! In the other (non-AIM) tournaments I fish I’m not looking forward to having to play the slot fish and live-well games again.”
Many states have also implemented “no culling” restrictions, which means that once a fish is placed in the livewell it cannot be released later – even if you catch a larger fish. In other words, when you have caught your limit, you are done fishing for the day. In contrast, the AIM “CRR” format allows unlimited “upgrading”, all day long. At the end of the day, the Pro Angler simply marks his Official Scorecard” with the seven fish that he would like counted as his daily bag. It is possible to “upgrade” up to the last possible moment. It is also possible to make large moves in the standings by weighing seven fish each day, as evidenced by Gary Parsons who moved from tenth place on Day One to first place on Day Two on the basis of an exceptional limit.
The AIM Pro Walleye Series tournament in Bay City also unveiled live video coverage of the action. Fishing tournaments are difficult to cover because the participants scatter over hundreds of square miles of lakes and rivers. But this event featured new video technology that allowed the coverage to be transferred live to the AIM Control Center back at the launch site, and then directly to the Internet on www.aimfishing.com. Fans were treated to over twenty videos of their favorite Pros in action. The Pros were able to describe where they were fishing and the exact techniques being employed, as well as a running report on their fishing progress.
These live videos were also supplemented by live GPS tracking systems, dubbed the AIM ProTrack™ system. GPS units revealed the exact location of each of the leaders’ boats. The GPS tracks were live on the AIM site and also revealed the entire history of movements throughout the day. Clicking on individual GPS icons also revealed the speed of travel: stopped (and jigging), 2mph (trolling), or 50 mph (running to the next location.)
Live videos and live GPS tracking puts fishing fans “in the boat” with the Pros. Throughout the day, the fans were able to see the strategies unfold as boats changed locations and presentation methods. They did not have to wait until the end of the day to learn how their favorite Pros adapted to the changing conditions and the waning clock. In the end, they were rewarded with a very close finish that saw Tommy Skarlis climb from second place on Day Two to a first place victory on Day Three with a total weight of just over one pound more than Gary Parsons, the second place Pro. (Complete standings are available at www.aimfishing.com.)
Finally, for the first time, the weigh-in process was also shown live on the AIM website. Historically, most fans don’t have the opportunity to travel to the tournament location. They have had to settle for a taped replay of a condensed weigh-in many months later, either on TV or on DVD. But the AIM weigh-in featured a professional, three-camera film crew that covered the entire event, and which was available for viewing in “real time” on www.aimfishing.com. Following the event, the weigh-in coverage was archived for viewing at no charge and with no restrictions from the AIM website.
Coverage of the full weigh-in is important to the Pros because they work hard to highlight their sponsors. It should also be noted that AIM is unique in that the corporation was actually formed by a group of walleye tournament anglers. One of the implicit objectives of the new corporation was that there would be no “blackouts” of sponsor brands of the individual Pros that might not match those of the tournament organization. This has proven to be an advantage for Pros seeking to represent a wider selection of local, regional, and national brands.
The AIM website is also the home to hundreds of digital photos of fish taken in the boats within seconds of being caught, videos filmed by the AIM photo staff, and video interviews. To date, these videos have generated thousands of views by tournament fans. In total, the coverage of the entire tournament has exceeded the historical expectations of the fans and the sponsors.
The goal of AIM, from the outset, was to create a new type of fishing tournament – both in terms of the format for the participants and the presentation to the fans. Based on the feedback from the public, it appears that the inaugural AIM Pro Walleye Series tournament was a success. Scott Matheson, the AIM President and CEO added, “This first event was the result of nearly 18 months of planning and work. We were confident that our new concept would be well accepted. But, until the first event is over, you always are cautious. But now we can concentrate on incremental improvements and expansion of our technologies.”
Shirley Roberts is the Director of the Bay City Convention and Visitors Bureau, the organization that sponsored Bay Fest and the AIM tournament. Mrs. Roberts related, “I can speak for our whole team when I say we very much enjoyed working with AIM on this first event. I am pleased that Bay City could be part of this ground-breaking tournament and very much look forward to a long and productive relationship with AIM.”
Ernie Plant is the President of the Saginaw Bay Walleye Club. The club provided many volunteers that contributed to the tournament operation. Ernie added, “I was able to attend the final day weigh-in ceremony and was thoroughly impressed! What a great concept! I spoke with several of the Pros that I know and they, too, echoed the same sentiment. I also spoke with some of our club members that fished as Co-anglers and they were also impressed. So were our volunteers. I look forward to working with and hosting AIM again in 2010.”
Dennis Gulau also remarked, “I had a great time fishing at Bay City, and I really think that CRR is the way of the future. It felt good every time I released a fish, knowing that it was not going for a 30-mile boat ride and that it would live to fight another day. I really believe that CRR is the future of walleye fishing tournaments.”
Rich Ignatowski, another Bay City Co-angler also added, “I would like to also congratulate AIM on how well you treated the Co-anglers. I am sure that everyone felt they were important and appreciated. I will for sure enter the next AIM event in 2010 so don’t forget me!”
Further information about AIM as well as up-to-the-minute updates about tournaments can be found at the AIM web site: www.aimfishing.com. The next AIM Pro Walleye series tournament will be held July 2 – 4, 2009 in Green Bay, Wisconsin in conjunction with the “Fire Over the Fox” regional festival.
Anglers Insight Marketing, LLC™ (AIM) is a unique tournament organization which is owned by stockholders, the majority of which are Professional walleye anglers. AIM Professionals are among the “All Stars” of professional fishing, with cumulative HUNDREDS of years of tournament experience, including countless tournament victories, series championships, and Angler of the Year titles. This insight and knowledge is now being employed to provide the finest tournament experience for the participants, and the maximum exposure for the host tournament sites and corporate partners.