Eufaula cashes in on fishing tournament

Posted by Bryan Henry  -  bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Somewhere out on Lake Eufaula more than 300 fishermen are going deep. It's the Forrest L. Woods fishing tournament. Woods founded Ranger boats.

"When we come to town it's like a professional fishing parade," said Chad Gay, Public Relations Manager for the FLW Outdoors.

The winner of the four-day tourney will walk away with $50,000. So far the fishermen have reeled in 4,500 pounds of bass.

Sarah Burr has already won big. Merchants like Burr are cashing in on what has always been a profitable event in this city of around 12,000. While there are many fishing tournaments throughout the year at Lake Eufaula, this is the second year in a row for the big FLW series.

"They started trickling in on Tuesday and came in again last night. Their wives have lunch here while their husbands fish, and they eat fish," Burr said with a chuckle.

Eufaula is laughing all the way to the bank. The economic impact? Well over a million.

"It's around $1.4 million when you consider the hotels that are filled up, the stores they visit and the restaurants they visit," said Corey Kirkland, Director of Tourism for the Eufaula-Barbour County Chamber of Commerce.

If you think the fishermen just fish on weekends, think again. Big names with fancy boats. Names like Ryan Ingram of Phenix City, Alabama.

"This is truly a professional sport. They're athletes and many of guys on the lake have made millions," said Kirkland.

The clouds dropped heavy rain for much of the day and at one point dropped butterbean-sized hail but organizers say this tournament will go on rain or shine.

"The fish don't know it's raining. They don't care," said Gay.

And neither do people like Sarah Burr.

"It's pretty good business. They come in here and have a good time," said Burr.

Chamber officials tell WSFA 12 News some of the fishermen have been known to spend $1,000 per day.

The winner of the FLW series in Eufaula will go on to compete for the 2011 Forrest World Cup, the world championship of bass fishing.

©2010 WSFA. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.