News 12 at 11 o'clock / Saturday, April 28, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Over 279 fishing boats cast their reels in Clarks Hill Lake on Saturday.
It was the first Kicks 99 Hooked on Country Bass Tournament at Wildwood Park.
They had more boats participate Saturday than any tournament in history. With more than $27,000 up for grabs, that was not surprising.
Noel Brown has been competing in fishing tournaments for over 35 years.
"I've competed in probably a thousand," he said.
He is a founder of the Clark Hill Committee, one of the sponsors of the event.
"I am the last, I think, living founder if you want to know the truth," Brown said.
The Clark Hill Committee has put on more than 100 tournaments, but Noel says this is easily the biggest he's ever seen.
"It's fantastic, it's fantastic," he said. "I've never seen this many people. We've had probably 100 to 125 boat tournaments on a regular basis but 275 to 280 boats is just a tremendous turnout."
A turnout that reeled in more than 550 people.
"We have anglers from all over," said Kicks 99's Steve Smith. "As far away as Tennessee, Virginia, we had one license plate from Ohio, so lots of folks from all over the place coming down here and trying their luck for $10,000 first prize."
That prize went to local fishermen Bart Blackburn and Wally Parks.
"That's great, to beat that many anglers that's great," Blackburn said. "It's a thrill for me, the competition just as much as anything."
With so many people trying to hook the biggest fish, the tournament had an added benefit for the park.
"Its incredible publicity," said Wildwood Park Coordinator Jeb Bell. "I mean you really cannot put a price tag on it, you just cannot because of the exposure."
Exposure organizers hope will bring even more people to the tournament next year, where Noel's hoping he can turn his eighth place finish into first.
The tournament benefited the Augusta Warrior Project.
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