News 12 at 11 o'clock, May 2, 2008
COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga.---The Bassmaster Elite Series is in town, and the big fishing competition reels in lots of fans, as well as lots of money.
Jason Baxley's loved fishing his whole life. It's why he and his family came out to the Pride of Georgia, which is part of the Bassmaster Elite Series.
"I really like it, I wish I could do it for a living," he said.
But since he doesn't, it's a good chance to meet some people who do.
"It's not everyday you get to talk to one of the pros you watch all your life on TV," he said.
Baxley and his family drove more than two hours for the event, and lots of others take the bait and come out as well.
Experts say about 9,000 people will go to the event, which is televised by ESPN. With all those people come a nice cash flow.
"A lot of people here are staying in hotels in the area, eating at our restaurants in Columbia County and surrounding counties," said Jeb Bell, the program coordinator for Wildwood Park.
The convention and visitors bureau expects the tournament to pour in about $1.2 million into the local economy.
It's also another way to put the Augusta-area on the map.
"It's tremendous for a community. It gives great exposure to the community," Bell said.
It's a tournament so big, Baxley wouldn't even let high gas prices keep him away.
"We almost didn't come out because of that reason, but we decided to come anyway," he said.
And with thousands of fans like him, the economy wins hook, line, and sinker.
The tournament started Thursday and continues through Sunday at Wildwood Park. The entrance fee is five dollars per vehicle.