FLW Day in Payson, to be held Sept. 18 at Green Valley Park, is rapidly turning into a premier angling showcase that will feature attractions for fishermen and women of all ages.
James Goughnour, one of the FLW tournament organizers, says food vendor booths have been sold out, and the list of professional tournament fishermen that will be on hand to sign autographs and dole out advice is growing.
Among those who have committed to attending the festivities are Gary Dobyns, Brent Ehrler, Brett Hite, Ron Hobbs Jr. Tim Klinger, Justin Lucas and Roy Hawk.
Last year, Hawk, a native of Salt Lake City, won the inaugural FLW Stren tournament held at Roosevelt Lake.
Hite is an Arizona angler who has fished on the pro circuit for three years, winning $632,468. He has also competed three times in the prestigious Forrest Wood Cup. Ehrler has won more than $1 million during his five years fishing as a pro.
Also attending will be local anglers Clifford Pirch and Buddy Randall.
Randall is a Pine resident who is fishing this entire year as a pro. Pirch, a former three-sport star at Payson High School, is a member of the National Guard professional team.
In all, Goughnour expects to have 18 to 20 professional anglers present at the event.
Although all the food booths are sold out for the festival, there are several product vendor booths available.
“Anyone that sells anything to do with outdoor activities such as fishing, hunting taxidermy, hiking, biking and camping can have a booth at the FLW Day by calling (928) 474-5242, ext 358,” said Goughnour.
The actual FLW Series National Guard West Division Series Tournament will be held Sept. 22 to 25 at Roosevelt Lake.
The tournament begins each day at 7 a.m. and continues to 2:30 p.m. Take-off and weigh-ins, except for the final day, will be at the Cholla Recreation Site.
The final day weigh-in begins at 4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 25 at Chapman Auto Center, where booths, a fun zone and FLW stage will be set up.
Those who attended the weigh-in at last year’s FLW Stren Series tournament at Roosevelt know the final event is both captivating and exciting.
It was held at Walmart.
A volunteer committee comprised of Payson and Tonto Basin businessmen and women and representatives of the state game and fish department, Tonto National Forest, Gila County Sheriff’s Office, Payson Police and Department of Public Safety have been working for months scheduling the tournament that will be televised.
Organizers say their goal “is for the FLW to have the best series event they have ever experienced.”
The professional FLW bass tournament won’t be the only angling action heating up Roosevelt Lake Sept. 25.
FLW will also host an inaugural college fishing tournament.
FLW launched the National Guard College Fishing Tournament circuit more than a year ago with a $100,000 prize package going to the eventual collegiate national team champion.
At a Feb. 28, 2009 college tournament on Lake Okeechobee in Florida, Auburn University captured first place and a $5,000 college scholarship.
FLW officials say they started the college tournament because there are many students who cannot afford to fish the pro circuit.
The college tournaments have no entry fees and FLW gives teams a travel allowance as well as boats.
Tournament director Kevin Hunt issued an invitation to students, “With us, you just show up and go fishing, and we’ll take care of you.”
All college students have to do to compete, is get a two-man team together and show up at the tournament site on the day it’s being held.
A total of 48 teams have signed up to compete since the circuit was formed. Teams are placed in one of five divisions — Northern, Southern, Southeast, Central, Western and Texas. The Roosevelt tournament is in the Western series.
Currently the Western circuit has only five teams, but FLW officials are expecting it to grow rapidly as word of the tournament gets out. Arizona State University has entered a team.
The college weigh-in is 1:30 p.m. Sept. 25 at Cholla Recreational Site.
“So there is time to watch the college weigh-in and make it back to Payson to see the FLW weigh-in,” Goughnour said.
For more information, log on to: http://www.collegefishing.com.