Normally stoic Kevin VanDam got a little out of character last week. Oh, he does his winning thing, but this time the bass fishing machine shows some emotion.
Upon securing his fifth Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title, the two-time Classic champ actually displays a little Ike. KVD, Skeet Reese and Mike Iaconelli get plenty of facetime in the season finale Bassmaster TV shows, airing Sunday on ESPN2 from 4 to 7 p.m. ET.
"Those three guys are in a shootout," said Mike McKinnis, executive producer for the Bassmaster shows. "We could not have asked for a better tournament in every way, from the water that we were on, to the locations we were at, to the anglers that we had."
All 12 anglers who reached the Toyota Trucks Championship Week are featured in the first hour-long show that previews the events.
"If you're a fan of one of these guys, you going to get to see them," McKinnis said, adding that the shows feature "tons of of-the-water action, more than the Classic."
The second show focuses on the Berkley Powerbait Trophy Chase, where Iaconelli got back into the AOY equation with his victory on Lake Jordan while Reese took the AOY points lead.
The final hour show gets down to the drama of another battle between VanDam and Reese. In 2007, Reese won the AOY at the final event with KVD hot on his tail. VanDam then won his fourth crown last season.
McKinnis said the final event, the Evan Williams Bourbon Trophy Triumph, played out to make a stellar broadcast. While KVD had the thrill of victory, Reese experienced the agony of defeat.
It was a suspenseful battle, with the entire season coming down to the final casts.
"It came down to 6 points," McKinnis said. "It came down to a pound for Skeet."
VanDam easily won the Trophy Triumph, but Reese still had a chance to become only the second angler to win a Classic and AOY title in the same season. Reese even had the fish on the line to win.
"People are going to get to see the key misses from Skeet that cost him $200,000," McKinnis said. "The key misses — he's got them on and almost got them to the boat. Those are the little things that happen that change the outcome."
Reese's emotions will be contrasted to VanDam, who ran away with the tournament and squeaked out the AOY title.
"KVD quietly, after having a terrible first half, quietly just mowed 'em over at that last event," McKinnis said. "And this passion that we've never seen from Kevin comes out on one of his fish — him even screaming some, which is not normally what Kevin does. He's usually all business."