And they're off..

Professional fisherman such as Charlie Hartley head for the open waters of Lake Chickamauga..

As B.A.S.S., the Bass Anglers Sportsmen Society, sets up shop in Dayton's Point Park for its new Bassmaster Elite Series.

"It's a new format for an event we've created and are debuting right here in Dayton, Tennessee," says BASS Director of Event Operations Eric Lopez.

As the 140 contestants wet their collective lines, Rhea County officials are already smiling, knowing they've already landed a financial lunker of a catch.

Last year's FLW event brought in a cool one and a half million dollars according to Dennis Tumlin, Executive Director of Rhea Economic & Tourism Council.

Tumlin believes BASSfest will likely crest that figure.   

"Our actual tax collections were in line with the month of Christmas for us, so when you compare that tournament in June to the month of Christmas, it's like adding another holiday to your business cycle," says Tumlin.

Tumlin and other Rhea County officials hope this event could lead to others in its wake.

"Other sport organizers might see this and say 'wow, I want to bring something to Dayton,"' said Michael Mulone, Director of Event & Tourism Partnerships for BASS.

As the Bassmaster Elite Series brings in the top professional fishermen from around the country here to Rhea County, the complimenting event, BASSfest, is anything but select. Fishing novices, even landlubbers are welcome.

"From a spectator standpoint, we want as many people to come out and enjoy the event, learn about fishing, learn how to fish your particular body of water, so you don't have to be part of the sport, you can know a little bit or you can know a lot," says Lopez.

The five day event got underway Wednesday.

BASSFest includes a plethora of interactive booths, demonstrations, classes, promotional products and more.

Best of all may be the price, it's free and open to the public.