Columbia/Lake Murray has everything needed for FLW, including champion bass fishing.

 

FLW says Lake Murray is a great venue for it’s annual championship of bass fishing, the Forrest Wood Cup.

For the third time since 2008, Lake Murray is hosting the biggest event in bass fishing this weekend. The region has everything FLW looks for when considering venues for the event.

“Columbia has them all,” FLW Director of Public Relations Joseph Opager said. “I mean, you gotta’ have a great fishery, and Lake Murray, you know, is loaded with largemouth bass it’s not easy to catch them this time of year but it always seems to produce in August and we’re going to see some big stringers this weekend.”

Compared to the Walmart parking lots that use to host the weigh-ins, Colonial Life Arena gives the FLW a little more star power.

“You need to have great facilities,” he said. “You gotta’ have a place that can hold the thousands of fans that come out to the weigh-ins and the expo, so really convenient here with Colonial Life Arena and the Convention Center next door hosting everything, so it makes for an ideal location.”

The third factor FLW considers for a location: community support.

“You guys got a strong bass fishing presence around here and a lot of great lakes,” Opager said. “And every time we come to town the fans come out in droves.”

And it doesn’t hurt that the angler who’s currently third in the FLW rankings, and 2014 Forrest Wood Cup Winner, Anthony Gagliardi, is a Prosperity native.

“Anthony Gagliardi is one of the legends in FLW,” Opager said. “I mean, his win in 2014 was a storybook ending. We couldn’t have written a better season for him and for FLW. He’s a great ambassador for the sport and it certainly helps bring out the local crowd when they’ve got a local favorite competing.”

The event is expected to have an economic impact of more than $20 million, according to regional tourism officials. 

Opager said the FLW’s mission is to get everyone interested in fishing and the outdoors.

“We try to spread the love of bass fishing and the outdoors to all ages. I mean, we’ve got a huge fishing tournament going on with the biggest payday in professional bass fishing. But there’s also a bass and barbecue festival going on. We’ve got a free country music with Easton Corbin. There’s a kid’s fishing derby, so there’s a lot of stuff going on for just the casual fishing fan.”

Some fans are so enthusiastic, they’ll even follow their favorite anglers on the lake.

“Most of them are going to have a couple spectator boats following them,” Opager said. “Some guys will get followed specifically. Some fans kind of just hang out in the areas. But if you’re out on the water and you see the anglers, give them a little space. They are competing for $300,000. But you’re welcome to kind of idle over and take some pictures, even talk to them if they’re interested in talking.”

The final weigh-in starts at 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon at Colonial Life Arena.

Click here for a link to FLW and a schedule of weekend events.