Friends and family of Mark Kile watched in anguish as the Rim country fishing professional narrowly missed making the second-day cut at the 34th Annual Citgo Bassmaster Classic in Charlotte, N.C.
The weigh-in was televised live Saturday afternoon on ESPN television.
For reasons unknown to Kile, in climatic fashion he was the final tournament angler to weigh in.
"I kept asking them ‘why are you holding me, do you think I've got a lot of fish in there,'" Kile said.
Although Kile didn't make the cut, he picked up a good deal of national air time for his sponsors and grandmother.
After telling ESPN his grandmother was in the audience, cameras panned onlookers until they found her.
"She's really excited about that," Kile said.
In the Classic format, only the top 25 anglers among the 53 qualifiers advanced to the third day competition.
At the end of the first day, Kile was in 20th place and appeared to have a solid shot at earning a final round berth. But on the second day, he boated just three bass and fell to 28th place.
"It was one of those tournaments where I just never got going," he said. "I found the right area, I was fishing near the guy that won it (Takahino Omari) but I caught a lot of 13 3/4-inch fish" Fish that can be kept must measure 14 inches.
His fishing strategy was to flip jigs which usually produces larger bass.
"This time it didn't" he said.
Kile -- who lives on the H-Bar Ranch south of Payson with his wife, Johnna, and daughter, Jordyn- qualified for the Classic on the Bassmaster pro tour and entered as last season's Rookie of the Year.
At the 2003 Classic on the Louisiana Delta near New Orleans, Kile had one of the best showings of his career earning $20,000 for his sixth-place finish.
Currently he is ranked 28th on the Citgo Bassmaster Angler of the Year competition with 1,068 points. Gerald Swindell leads the title chase with 1,326 points.
In the State Farm Bassfan.com world standings, he is currently ranked ninth.
Upon Kile's return to Payson, he announced he was accepting a position as regional sales manager for Skeeter Boats. His new job would mean he'd have to scale down his national tournament quests.
"I'll be fishing the west coast. I can't get all of the fishing out of my blood," he said.
Kile said he couldn't turn down the position because it will be a better lifestyle, he'll make more money and he'll be able to spend more time with his family.
Although he'll be on the road much of the time, he plans on taking his wife and daughter with him.