Tribune-Courier General Manager
DRAFFENVILLE – While the anglers of the Bassmaster’s National Championship and Classic make their way to Kentucky Lake this weekend to catch the big one, local restaurants, hotels and shops hope to catch something too. What they hope to reel in is a portion of the estimated quarter of a million dollars the anglers will leave behind while in the county.
The tournament is set to begin this Friday, but many of the competitors are already in the area to become familiar with the waters.
This tournament is one of the largest of the 25 hosted by the area already this year, with over 200 boats and nearly 400 out-of-state anglers registered for the event. According to Randy Newcomb, Director of the Marshall County Tourism Commission, that translates to 600-700 room nights, with the majority putting their head in a bed in Marshall County.
That economic impact also extends to restaurants and retailers who cater to the fishermen. John Parks, who owns Fisherman’s Headquarters in Draffenville, says he generally sees a 100 percent increase in his business during tournaments.
“The tournaments really help to extend our season,” said Parks. “We will stay busy into November this year at a time that would normally be our slow season,” he added.
Parks said the fishermen come in for tackle, lures, line, rods and reels and something he can’t sell them: advice.
“They want to know what the fish are doing, what the prevailing patterns are on the lake and what tackle is working best,” he said.
The tournaments are so important to Marshall County’s tourism the commission has a line item in their budget to sponsor such events. “Many of the tournament coordinators come to us for financial support,” said Newcomb. “Anytime we can bring in a tournament during the months of September, October and November, it’s a good thing for the community as a whole. Since this is not our main tourism season, it gives us another source of much needed business.”
Mark Wood, who along wife his wife Kathy, own Moors Resort and Marina in Gilbertsville says the tournaments that come during his off-peak season literally mean survival. Last weekend the Moors, which includes 24 lodge guest rooms and 35 cottages, hosted the Lady’s Bass Anglers Association tournament which played to over 40 female competitors.
“Some of the ladies stayed here all week and that’s great for us this time of year,” said Wood. The tournaments are definitely appreciated during the off season, plus the fishing is better.”
The Bass Master Weekend Series slated for this weekend will begin with weigh-ins at 3 p.m. on Friday at Kentucky Dam State Park Marina. Anglers are traveling from South Alabama, East and Central Tennessee, North Carolina and Missouri for the tournament. The winner of the event will take home a 2011 Triton boat and Mercury motor.