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'Super Bowl' of fishing begins today on Lake Lanier
FLW Outdoors Forrest Wood Cup brings anglers, fans and dollars to area
This weekend’s fishing tournament, which starts today, will bring hundreds to Laurel Park in Gainesville and the Gwinnett Arena in Duluth. Fishing contestants will start at the park and weigh-in will be at the arena, more than 30 miles away.
Behind the scenes at the FLW Outdoors’ Forrest Wood Cup

How does a fishing tournament work?
Anglers leave the mega boat ramp at Laurel Park and can catch fish anywhere on the lake. Anglers turn in their catches to tournament organizers and at 5 p.m. the fish are weighed in front of a crowd at the Gwinnett Arena. The biggest fish caught during the four-day tournament wins the angler $500,000.

Why Lake Lanier?
Tournament organizers chose Lanier for three main reasons:
1: There is a good body of water for fishing. “Lake Lanier is probably one of, if not the best, spotted bass fisheries in the country,” said Chad Gay, public relations manager for the FLW Outdoors’ Forrest Wood Cup.
2: There is a take off facility large enough to handle the boats in the tournament.
3: There is an arena big enough for taping the results weigh-in and TV show.

Why is it important to keep the fish alive?
“If the fish die, well first of all, that makes us look bad. And it hurts what we’re trying to do, in grow the sport of fishing. If we kill fish, the next time we come here, there’s less fish, the fishing’s no good — sooner or later we’re going to put ourselves out of business,” Gay said.

SPORTS: Forrest Wood Cup starts Thursday

GET OUT: A new angle on fishin'

The super bowl of bass fishing starts this morning on Lake Lanier, putting Hall County in the national spotlight.

People from around the country will be tuning in to watch their favorite anglers fish on Lake Lanier during the annual FLW Outdoors’ Forrest Wood Cup, while thousands are scheduled to be in the area for the weekend tournament.

Through Sunday, the bass anglers will be taking off early each morning from the new mega boat ramp at Laurel Park in hopes of making the biggest catch.

Chad Gay, public relations manager for the FLW Outdoors’ Forrest Wood Cup, said after the anglers leave from Laurel Park, they will be able to fish anywhere on the lake. At 5 p.m., the anglers will weigh their catches in front of a crowd at the Gwinnett Center arena in Duluth.

Stacey Dickson, president of the Lake Lanier Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the tournament will have a huge economic impact for Hall County.

“This is the super bowl of bass fishing. It can’t get better than this,” Dickson said. “It’s serious business. We underestimate the value fishing brings.”

Around 100,000 people are expected to attend some portion of the tournament, and Gay said the economic impact is expected to be around $28 million for the state.

“The important factor here is reaching the people. A lot of them have minimal awareness of what’s available to do on Lake Lanier,” Dickson said. “This is giving us an opportunity to sell one on one.”

Gay said the biggest crowds will be at the weigh-in ceremony and adjoining outdoors expo, where people can learn about fishing and meet their favorite pros.

“That’s what it’s all about,” Gay said. “That’s the culmination of it everyday.”

He said there are a number of considerations that went into selecting the sites.

“We have to have a good body of water and Lake Lanier is one of the best if not the best spotted bass fisheries in the country,” Gay said. “We have to have a takeoff facility that is large enough ... and third we have to have an arena that’s big enough for our weigh-in and TV show we’re taping.”

Though Gwinnett County was selected as the weigh-in site, Dickson said Hall County will reap the benefits from the prestige the tournament will bring to Lake Lanier.

“We’re already getting calls from people that can’t make the tournament that have seen it on the website or on the television show that are wanting to rent houses, do charters, or want information on the marinas,” Dickson said. “This is going to be a sustainable impact for us. It’s not even so much about what’s being spent here this week. It’s about the millions of people that are going to see this event ... that are then going to make plans to come here to fish.”

The tournament chose Lake Lanier as a site largely because of Go Fish Georgia, an initiative started in hopes of boosting fishing and boating in Georgia lakes for the benefit of local communities.

“We’re working with Gov. Perdue and that Go Fish initiative and it’s obviously been a success,” Gay said. “Traditionally Georgia’s had a lot of fisherman leave the state to go fishing and the governor wants to turn that around and keep the residents in state spending in state fishing dollars and also attract out of state fisherman to the area.”