The logistics of hosting back-to-back professional bass fishing tournaments can present overwhelming challenges.
For proof, ask Jim Goughnour and the other members of the FLW Everstart Payson volunteer committee that is currently helping stage a pair of upcoming tournaments at Roosevelt Lake.
On Feb. 12 and 13, Western Outdoor News (WON) will host its first-ever tournament on the lake and on Feb. 17 to 19, FLW will stage a bass fray.
The Payson committee expects the WON event to draw 100 to 150 anglers and the FLW Everstart to attract a field of 300 contestants.
Because the Payson committee successfully helped host two previous FLW tournaments, it was called upon to help stage the inaugural WON event.
Adding to the volunteers’ challenge is the fact that the tournaments are on consecutive weekends.
In an effort to keep pace with the tournament demands, the committee meets weekly to polish up the format and finalize details. At a recent meeting, Goughnour announced that The Tackle Box owner John Sneed has agreed to host the Second Annual No Slot Bass Tournament on a weekend before either the WON or FLW tournaments are staged.
That’s significant because the prize awarded the winner of the No Slot event is paid entry fees into the FLW tournament.
“Keith Espe, the winner of the (Payson) FLW event last year was one of the No Slot winners and had his and his co-angler’s entry fees paid into the FLW,” said Goughnour.
That’s a chunk of change because the entry fee for pros is $1,000 and is $400 for co-anglers.
Also on the volunteer committee’s agenda is to lay plans to have the Gila County Sheriff’s Office Lake Patrol on hand at Cholla ramp to do safety inspections.
If an angler is fishing both the WON and FLW tournaments, only one inspection will be performed.
Also, the committee has slated an FLW anglers’ buffet dinner to be held 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Feb. 15 at the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino. The group is also scouring the town in search of raffle prizes, making arrangements to bring in a master of ceremonies for the weigh-in and enlisting 25 local boat owners to assist the FLW college anglers.
Goughnour says National Guard FLW College Fishing is the country’s largest tournament-fishing competition for college bass clubs. In the competitions, college clubs compete for lucrative scholarships and prizes, plus a chance to compete in the prestigious Forrest Wood Cup.
The college tournaments are free to enter and boats and drivers are provided to the collegians. The college tournament at Roosevelt is scheduled for Feb. 19.
Another challenge the Payson committee is currently undertaking is to lobby Arizona Game and Fish officials for permission to transport fish to and from the weigh-in at the Payson Walmart store.
The registration and pre-tournament meeting will be hosted by the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino on Feb. 16. Registration will be from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. with the mandatory pre-tournament meeting starting at 6:30 p.m. Volunteers will be handing out chamber of commerce discount cards, which can be used at local businesses.
There will be Tonto National Forest parking passes available to purchase during the meeting. Weigh-in events are:
• Days 1 and 2 — 2:30 p.m. at Cholla Recreation Site.
• Day 3 — 4 p.m. at Walmart, 300 N. Beeline Highway.
The tournament headquarters is the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino, located just south of Payson.
• Pro entry fee is $500; AAA entry fee is $250.
• Anglers must check in from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 11 at Mazatzal Hotel and Casino. Payment for options made on site must be made in cash only.
• Check in and registration is from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 11 in the casino’s bingo room.
Also on that day:
• 5:30 p.m. — Refreshments and hors d’oeuvres
• 6 p.m. — Mandatory meeting and partner pairing
• Boat inspection is Feb. 12 and 13 at Cholla ramp boat dock. Boat inspections begin at 4:30 a.m.
• Presentation of Colors is at 6 a.m.
• First flight leaves at 6:30 or safe light
• The awards ceremony is from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Feb. 13 at Mazatzal Hotel and Casino.