With the Rim Country economy struggling, the boost local business owners are hoping for could be an upcoming FLW Outdoors bass tournament.
At least that’s the opinion of Payson committee members entrusted to make sure the tournament, to be held April 16 to 18 at Roosevelt Lake, is a win-win situation for both the local business community and visiting anglers.
The committee, which includes town outdoors and trails coordinator Mary McMullen, Payson Parks and Recreation and Tourism Director Cameron Davis, retired PHS teacher Dennis Pirch, former mayor Craig Swartwood, and Jim Goughnor, has been meeting weekly to lay the plans for one of the very few tournaments FLW has ever hosted in Arizona.
Pirch says he believes FLW Outdoors is beginning to recognize Roosevelt Lake as one of the premier fishing spots in the Western United States and would like to make tournament inroads here. Predictions are an FLW tournament would result in an economic impact on Northern Gila County of $683,200.
The tournament is expected to draw about 200 professional anglers and possibly 200 co-anglers who will arrive a week before the fray to begin the traditional pre-fishing rites.
Nationwide, FLW tournaments attract 90,000 entries to 240 events with purses exceeding $42.6 million.
Many of the tournaments are televised nationally on the Outdoor Channel. While the upcoming Roosevelt tournament, which will be on the Stren Series, will not be on TV, organizers say it is the first step in getting the lake recognized as a top-notch fishery.
Among the first tasks the local committee is working on is to greet tournament anglers with a type of “Goodie Bag” they’ve chosen to call “Bass Tackle Bags.”
The bags will be given out at the onset of the tournament to all registered anglers.
The bags will include coupons, souvenirs, discounts, keepsakes and mementos from local business persons.
Organizers predict the bags will be a great way to introduce local businesses and trades to the visitors.
“And it would be of little or no cost (to the businesspersons),” Swartwood said.
For example, at a local meeting, committee persons mulled over the possibility of a business owner putting discount coupons or two-for-one coupons in the bags, much as they do on the discount cards that the Payson High School track and field team annually sells.
Those interested in participating in the venture, only need to take whatever they’d like included into the bags to McMullen at the Green Valley Park P&R offices.
The Bass Tackle Bags are an outstanding way to introduce Payson to the anglers, but they are only one of the many attractions the local committee is planning.
“There will be much more, we are working on that,” Davis said.
Also on board with the committee to ensure the tournament is a big hit on the Stren Series circuit is Wal-Mart and the Mazatzal Casino. Wal-Mart will host the final weigh-in, along with a myriad of other attractions and free hot dogs, chips and drinks.
The casino will host tournament registration in its bingo room and is in the midst of planning other activities. For more information about the tournament, call McMullen at (928) 474-5242, ext. 7 or e-mail her at email@example.com.