The FLW Tour on Lewis Smith Lake will be Thursday through Sunday and is hosted by the Chamber of Commerce of Walker County. Chamber President Linda Lewis said the fishing tournament will have a more than $2 million impact on the area.
“This is big for us,” Lewis said. “This is a tournament that everyone in the country would love to host, and it’s being held on Smith Lake. A tournament of this caliber will have a tremendous positive effect on our area.”
The FLW stop at Smith Lake will feature 300 anglers on 175 boats. The tournament will be broadcast in high-definition on NBC Sports Network when “FLW” airs April 14 from 11 a.m.-12 p.m. ET. The show is broadcast to more than 559 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world.
“We have that many anglers coming to town. They will be bringing family members with them. Add to that the FLW staff and television crew, and that is a lot of visitors right here in Jasper,” Lewis said.
Lewis said hotels in the area are already booked and many homes in the area have been rented to anglers.
“The lodging dollars that come in during a tournament like this is only part of the economic boost,” she said. “These visitors will eat at our restaurants, buy fuel at our service stations and shop at our stores.”
Lewis explained the economic impact doesn’t end there.
“The anglers spend money with those businesses, but that trickles down, because those businesses then spend their money right here in Walker County. All our businesses will receive either direct or indirect benefits from our area hosting this tournament.”
The community will also benefit in other ways from FLW presence in Walker County. As part of the FLW Tour’s community outreach initiative, anglers will visit Cordova High School on Wednesday from 10:40 to 11:20 a.m. to talk to students about the various aspects of science and technology that apply to the world of professional fishing.
Topics will include mathematics, biology on the water, advance sonar technology and the business side of fishing. Cordova seniors and the Cordova Fishing Team were encouraged to write and submit an essay (500 words or less) on the following topic: “How does science, technology, engineering and math apply to the sport of fishing?” All students who submit an essay will receive an FLW hat. Members of the FLW Foundation Board of Directors will judge the essays, and two winners will be announced at the angler visit Wednesday. The two winners will each receive an autographed FLW team fishing jersey as well as a half day of fishing with an FLW pro on Lewis Smith Lake on Sunday along with a parent or guardian.
Carl Cannon Chevrolet is hosting a Chevy Pro Night Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m. where fans can enjoy a free dinner with the pros, who will also take time to sign autographs.
Several pro anglers were already in town Saturday. Many took part in a meet and greet at the Jasper Walmart and participated in a “Meet the Pros” event at Jasper First Church of the Nazarene, where fans received several fishing tips and heard the testimonies of several professional anglers.
“I love coming back to Smith Lake,” said Jay Yelas, a former Bassmaster Classic winner and FLW Angler of the Year winner. “I’ve been to Smith Lake so many times during my career. God has always given us an opportunity to be a blessing in the community when we come here. It’s fun to come back and see some old friends.”
During the event at First Nazarene, pro angler Greg Bohannan said his luck hasn’t always been very good on Smith Lake.
“I first came here in 2007 and finished dead last. I came back in 2008 and finished 137th,” he said. “I got chills when I saw we were coming back, because I haven’t been very good here. I’m staying at the same place on Smith Lake that I did my first two trips, but I’ve moved upstairs. I wanted to get out of that bad luck room.”
Lewis said anglers are always happy to give back to the communities they visit and love to speak with fans.
“Any time you see boats out this week or see some of the anglers in their jerseys, feel free to go up and talk with them,” she said. “They are a friendly group of guys and enjoy meeting their fans.”