Tournament reels in crowds and cash
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)--The life of a professional angler seems easy--take the boat out on the lake and fish all day. However, when you do it in competitions like the FLW Outdoors Magazine tournament in order to pay the bills, it's a different story. The contest is at Lake Chickamauga through the weekend.
"It's their lives," said Sean Ostruszky, Associate Editor of FLW. "These guys put in as much effort and time and thought preparation as any professional athlete out there, and they can make a great living at it."
It can take hours before the bass bite, but here patience pays off.
"[The] winner's going to walk away with at least a hundred thousand dollars," said Ostruszky.
He went on to say 10 anglers have earned more than a million dollars on the tour and a few have made more than three million. However, they don't do it just for the money. Natural love of the sport plays a big role.
"It's like any other sport," explained Ostruszky. "It's what they love; and those guys, since they could walk, most of them have been holding a fishing rod."
It's not just the contestants who can reel in the bucks. Plenty of extra money is expected to pour into local business in and around the Scenic City from thousands of spectators in town from around the nation and the world.
"It's a lot of hotels, a lot of restaurants," said Jeff McCoy, Director of Communications for FLW.
Gas stations will hit it big, too, with all those visitors and the 150 anglers fueling up their boats at more than $3.50 a gallon. McCoy estimates $1.5 to $3.5 million dollars of revenue to be generated.
This is the first FLW Major tournament to come to the area, a smaller one was held last year, and it's not a lock the competition will return next year. However, the great fishing at Lake Chickamauga plus all Chattanooga has to offer may lure it back.
"If it's not on the docket for next year, I'm sure it'll be talked about for the coming years," said McCoy.