For the first time in tournament history, the entire event was televised; this was done partly to allow fans to follow the action from home, but mostly due to regulations imposed after last year’s competitor, Jeremy Wilkens, aged 43, disappeared into the forest between rounds. Friends later said that Jeremy talked at length about leaving society for life in the woods. “He fancied himself a child of the Earth,” they said. But the Earth disagreed when days later a lifeless Jeremy was found slumped over a makeshift rod, presumably having learned that actual fishing is a bitch.
As the start of the contest drew near, televisions broadcast introductions for each of the competitors. The first addressed the Scotsman, Harrison Helms. Helms was distinguished among fishermen for his ability to craft an attractive lure from any material, including car parts, though this capacity had no bearing whatsoever on virtual play. The second was the Frenchman, Benjamin Voudaoud, who, when accused and tried for manipulating the game’s point system in 2009, leveraged his considerable sexual prowess to sleep his way out of a conviction and onto the cover of the hit pay per view exposé, Bassmaster 2000, All My Fish Are Wet. Last, a likeness of the the American and reigning Bassmaster champion, Bootsy Collins flashed across television screens. It identified the tournament champion as the funky bass preacher of the American band, Parliament. An audio clip from Bootsy himself accompanied the image, in which Bootsy said, “The world always needs more bass, and the Bassmaster is here to bring it to ‘em, baby.”
At the sound of the cannon, the contestants were off. Each man raced to claim what was, in his own opinion, the ripest virtual location. Each, except Bootsy, whom audiences observed unloading a van of sound equipment by the side of the lake. Like a 200 pound hawk, the Scot descended upon the Sony television approximately two meters from the starting line, while the Frenchman, clad in a single, rosey speedo, sped toward the LG C7 OLED downshore. Having secured the more powerful television, Voudaoud turned to Helms and proceeded to make a series of rude gestures with his hips, as per the rules. Helms, however, took little notice. He was busy pounding the A button to reel in his first catch, the ghost of Jacques Cousteau standing by to verify the merit of the encounter. For his part, Bootsy had already plugged into the generators and began tuning his bass, bending at both knees every so often and bobbing his head in time with some ethereal tune known only to him. As the sun fell, Helms held the lead at thirty points, Voudaoud at twenty-seven, and Bootsy zero, though the reigning champion appeared undaunted as he pounded nails into the floorboards of what appeared to be a burgeoning stage.
The three gentlemen continued in this manner through the final day of the tournament. When it came time to tally the catches, Helms presented twenty-six small-mouths and nineteen large-mouths for an impressive 292 points. Seeing this, Voudaoud scoffed and laid bare his own catch: twenty small-mouths, fifteen large-mouths, and two never-before-seen items, King Neptune’s crown and sceptre, each, according to the tally, carrying the weight of 1000 points. Seeing that, Helms burst into a righteous anger and declared the Frenchman a philanderer and a cheat. Voudaoud retorted that only one of the accusations was true, but irrelevant to the matter at hand. Within seconds, the two men fell to blows, during which all cameras cut to an emergency commercial. When coverage resumed, it was unclear whether the rivals remained in a brawl or the throws of passionate desire as clothing was torn, hair tussled, and sounds...emitted. In either case, the ghost of Jacques Cousteau stepped forward to proclaim that both men, though clearly in the deepest, most forbidden love, were disqualified from the current and all future Bassmaster championships, and the winner, by default for the seventeenth consecutive year, was Bootsy Collins.
Following the announcement, the sky blackened as if on cue; smoke cascaded from the stage Bootsy completed only moments earlier, and a raspberry aroma filled the air. Colored neon lights beamed from the stars and coalesced on a hydraulic platform center stage, which lifted Bootsy high into the night sky. The prince of funk rejoiced in his renewed status as Bassmaster, and began delivering his long list of funky decrees from a heinous bass guitar that had every red blooded man, woman and child grooving so hard they damn near broke the confines of the entire funkiverse. So ended the 17th annual Bassmaster tournament, with its champion, Bootsy Collins, ascending to a higher plane with the ghost of Jacques Cousteau to preside over all those in pursuit of bass who are pure of soul and funky at heart.