Lake Champlain professional bass tournament carries on with modifications
PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) - Spectators from near and far this week are getting to watch the 13th Bassmaster Elite Fishing Tournament on Lake Champlain, but in a different way than they may be accustomed.
A little bit of rain didn’t stop 85 anglers casting out on Lake Champlain Thursday morning for the biggest bass. Professional anglers from across the country are on one of their favorite lakes looking for large and small-mouthed bass for the annual tournament
"It's a game, it's strategy, it's competition, and of course they are bringing up big weights, which is always fun to see," said the tournament's Emily Harley.
But COVID concerns this year meant changes for fans and participants alike. Boats remained docked until each angler’s health was cleared. “Everyone was tested when we got here and we are screening daily,” Harley said.
Bassmaster Elite is one of five bass fishing competitions usually held each summer in the Lake City, bringing in over $2 million to the region. But this year it's the only tournament still going. "Everyone jokes that fishing is kind of like the original social-distancing," Harley said.
"It will bring in less than that but it still is going to bring in a good amount of money in a time when it's needed most," said Alyssa Senecal with the Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau.
Last year officials say about 11,000 people came to the region for the tournament. With no spectators allowed this year, the fans can watch from the comfort of their living rooms. "Fortunately all four days will be broadcast on ESPN2," Harley said.
"People are still going to sit at home, stay safe, see our beautiful lake and our beautiful area and watch these anglers catch some big bass," Senecal said. She says The 85 athletes plus staff will stay in the area for about a week supporting the local economy. "They are going to get gas -- they need a lot of gas for their boats and their trucks."
With many summer events in the area disrupted by COVID-19, Senecal hopes carrying on with the tournament is the start of getting back to some kind of normal. "I think it's a sign that we can adjust and abide by these rules. I think its good for our area. I think it means we are moving forward in small ways," she said.
All of the fish caught are released back into Lake Champlain. The competition runs through Sunday.
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