Bass Tournament Makes Big Splash On Local Economy

It's been going on for 21 years now, and the Big Bass Splash Tournament is only getting larger. One reason for the growth is likely the many prizes people can win.

Bob Sealy of Sealy Outdoors said, "we've got $560,000 in guarunteed cash money. We're paying more places on the hour, we're paying 12. And oh, we've got entertainment open to the general public."

The lure of big cash prizes is a big draw among fishermen. And the local economy is benefiting.

Debbie McTigrit manages Rayburn Tackle, she says the boost in business at her gas station helps keep them going in the slower parts of the year.

Debbie said, "it helps support you in your lull, right. You know your winter slows down, your weather. But this brings them out it really does."

Strong sales of both her fishing equipment and gas helps the bottom line. And of course all the fishermen need a place to stay the night. That's where local lodges and inns come in. There may not be many rooms filled at the Bass Buster Inn during the winter months, but on tournament weekends, they're full.

Buster Harvey, owner of the Bass Buster Inn said "we don't get the overnighters, the thru traffickers like they do in the cities. People going from state to state and just spending the night and going on. We have to watch our pennies to make it through the months where there's not very many tournaments."

Not only are tournaments like the McDonalds Big Bass Splash good for the local economy, but they are necessary for some businesses around here to survive.

The tournament continues through the weekend. On Saturday at 4:30 pm, there will be a free concert. That will happen at the Umphrey Family Pavilion on Lake Sam Rayburn featuring country music star Tracy Lawrence. All of the entertainment is free to the public.

Proceeds from the tournament go to benefit the Ronald McDonald Houses.