Fans of big-league bass fishing got their wishes last week, as we finally witnessed an event dominated by shallow-water tactics. The BPT at Lake Eufaula featured veteran names including Reese, Clausen and Omori, while mixing in younger power-fishermen Cole Floyd and Zack Birge.

In the end, Birge ran away with the event by combing select shallow pockets with a bladed jig. Topwater frogs also played big in the tournament. And, although second-place competitor Drew Gill used forward-facing sonar to scope around floating docks, most of the others played the cast-and-crank game.

Viewers rejoiced. Week after week, we see social comments centering around a need for more old-school fishing, how FFS has changed the enjoyment level for viewers, and a desire to better prioritize fan engagement.

Eufaula presented just that. Event commentator JT Kenney gave me the run down on how the stars aligned. Lake Eufaula experienced a major rise in water levels as practice began. A few days later, hoards of fish moved into the newly flooded cover. That, combined with a trickle of shad-spawn activity, as well as a prolonged spawning period for the reservoir’s bass, put a bunch of fish on the bank.

I’d wager that Eufaula’s bass population also factored in. Here, we saw lower catch numbers than most BPT events, resulting in less fish needed to do well in the event. This plays a huge role in fishing methods and defines the contrast between all-you-can-catch tournaments and traditional five-fish events.

Now that the scales have settled, I wonder how the event will be judged. Will positive feedback impact future tournament decisions, including venue choice? Perhaps such ideas may someday be considered.

Whenever the concept of FFS comes ups in conversation, pro tournament fans voice their dissatisfaction. But do the leagues understand this, and do they care?

Let’s assume they do. A mix of competitive arenas, then, could make for a well-rounded schedule.

A few events on bodies of water known for shallow-water power fishing. A few others where an offshore bite is certain to prevail, and a Northern tourney or two thrown in for the smallmouth junkies. Sounds like a win. Or at least a solution.

We’ve seen this to some degree already. After dipping their toes in the Great Lakes scene through the early 2000s, both of the big leagues began to annually schedule Northern events; often more than one. We watched as places like the Thousand Islands, Cayuga and Mille Lacs impacted the Angler of the Year standings, leading to well-rounded winners.

The same thing could be said for tournament trips out West, or even Florida to some degree. To consistently place near the top, competitors couldn’t be hometown heroes or one-trick ponies.

It will take a little planning, but we’ll see the same with our newest tournament expansion, you watch. Whereas overall standings the last couple of years have been strongly impacted by FFS prowess, well-rounded individuals will still be our Anglers of the Year.

But can this all be defined and accomplished? Here, the BPT model may have an advantage over others.

While all tournament leagues stress economic impact to the towns they visit, and sell that impact in the form of sponsorship dollars, the BPT has visited small, obscure venues in the past. The tournament’s unique launching procedures – where often competitors can use more than one ramp – allows for smaller facilities.

Removal of organized weigh-ins also allows for tournaments on the fly. There is simply no need for a massive central gathering place.

The BPT, then, can adapt its schedule to allow for more shallow-water events focusing on visible cover instead of screen time.

For me, that’s a huge plus. Everything about the Eufaula event brought this to light.

Shallow-water fishing puts me in the boat. I’m picking apart the cover the same way the pros are. Drooling over the flooded bushes. Watching in awe as the best anglers flawlessly skip baits under docks, or make graceful left-handed pitches. Boat positioning – in its own a primary skill set – is demonstrated to perfection. Hooksets are harder, rods bend deeper, and short-strung bigmouths get my heart pumping. My gosh, that’s bass fishing!

And it sure beats a split-screen showing a depthfinder.

Always the realist, I’m hoping Eufaula was an eye-opener to more than just me.

(Joe Balog is the often-outspoken owner of Millennium Promotions, Inc., an agency operating in the fishing and hunting industries. A former Bassmaster Open and EverStart Championship winner, he's best known for his big-water innovations and hardcore fishing style. He's a popular seminar speaker, product designer and author, and is considered one of the most influential smallmouth fishermen of modern times.)