LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – Angelina County's Cassels-Boykin Park on Lake Sam Rayburn hosted its first commercial bass tournament this weekend.
The event, and others to follow, is the culmination of efforts by many county leaders.
This tournament organized by C.A.S.T. (Couples Association of Sport Tournaments) brought in over 130 couples to compete this weekend at the county park and lake.
Although the tournament officially kicked off Saturday, many of the contestants got a head start on the competition by getting in town early for some fishing practice.
"The majority of them have been in town all week. They came out on - last Sunday or Monday starting pre-fishing - practicing," said Jason Kartye, Angelina Co. Parks Director.
This is a couples-only bass tournament for those who qualified from their regional competitions.
"A lot of folks come and make their vacation time around this particular event because this is our tournament," said John Watts, Owner/Director of C.A.S.T.
That calculates to hundreds of out-of-towners spending their money in Angelina County for almost a week.
County Parks Director Jason Kartye says this is why bringing bass tournaments to Cassels-Boykin Park brings in big bucks to the local economy.
"It's kind of a trickle down... You think 'oh they rent the pavilion , oh that's good and fine', but they're also buying gas and hotel rooms and food," said Kartye.
The Lakeview RV Park and Motel Convenience Store is many of the competitors last stop before getting out on the lake. Donna Vorse experienced the economic boost all weekend.
"Thursday we started getting really busy and its been busy all weekend," said Vorse.
Their empty store shelves were a testament to what customers were after.
"Beer... Beer and cigarettes," said Vorse.
County officials have also pinned the hope of future economic benefits of hosting fishing tournaments. They believe at least a few of these fisherman will be back to fish again on Lake Sam Rayburn.
The tournaments' owner and organizer, John Watts, says that all depends on the competitors' experiences while they're here.
"Once the folks have seen how Lufkin is - how nice the lake is - they're going to come back and visit - bring they families and friends," said Watts.
After Sunday afternoon's final fish weigh-in, the winners of the couples' tournament were announced. A couple from Longview, Doug and Betty Taylor, came in first with a combined two-day total of 32 pounds and 14 ounces of bass.
All of the fish were released back into the lake.