Anyone watching ESPN Saturday morning saw Rim country bass fishing pro Mark Kile become one of the Super Six qualifiers on the prestigious Citgo Bass Master's Tournament Trail.
During the national event held at Clear Lake, Calif., Kile weighed in a limit of 24 pounds, 13 ounces. The catch represented the largest of the day.
In fishing his way to a first-place standing, Kile beat many of the country's highest profile tournament anglers.
The ESPN program was actually a tape delay from a week earlier. What will be aired next Saturday is the Super Six final round in which Kile finishes second.
In the final moments of the tournament, Kile hooks, and then loses a lunker that, if caught, would have lifted him to the championship. The runner-up showing earned the Rim angler $40,000 in prize money. A win would have been worth $100,000.
The second-place finish will enhance Kile's already sterling reputation as one of the finest tournament competitors in the United States.
Kile spent the past weekend at his ranch near Rye and will return this week to the bass tournament circuit.
Sponsored by Yamaha and Skeeter, Kile participates in tournaments around the United States. The biggest draw for him and other fishing pros is the southeastern U.S. where bass fishing is one of the most popular outdoor sports
Kile says the extensive travel can be demanding, but the pressures have been eased a bit this season by the presence of his wife, Johnna, and 14-month old daughter, Jordyn.
"They've been on the road with me since the first week in January," Kile said.
A native of Arizona, Kile has made a living bass fishing the West with much of his time on Arizona lakes. The Payson pro is one of the few western fishermen to qualify for the Bass Master Classic. To date, he has chalked up more than 50 tournament wins.
Kile's close friend and fishing companion, Clifford Pirch, a professional angler and columnist for the Payson Roundup, will spend this week in Clear Lake where he is entered in a tournament.
"I gave him all the tips I could about the lake," Kile said.
Down to the wire
What was in the Arizona water on Saturday?
The state's three professional sports teams all won last-second thrillers that left their opponents stunned and bewildered.
Stephon Marbury's last second, desperation three-pointer lifted the Phoenix Suns to a 96-95 overtime win over the highly favored San Antonio Spurs. Phoenix fans haven't witnessed a shot of that magnitude since Garfield Heard unleashed his shot heard around the world in the 1976 NBA playoffs against the Boston Celtics.
Not to be out-done, the Arizona Rattlers arena football team survived an 82-81 thriller over the Grand Rapids Rampage. The Rattlers went ahead 82-75 in overtime, but then gave up a Rampage TD. When Grand Rapids decided to go for a two-point conversion attempt and the win, the Arizona defense stymied three successive tries.
Behind a strong outing by starter Byung-Hyun Kim and stellar relief from Matt Mantei, the Diamondbacks held on for a spine-tingling 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. St. Louis might have won, if it hadn't been for Craig Counsell's tremendous diving stop in the bottom of the eighth that retired the side with the tying run on third.
No doubt about it; Saturday's games will have sports fan's tongues wagging for weeks.