More than 300 of the nation's top professional and amateur anglers will visit Columbia County this week for the 2005 Citgo/ESPN Bassmaster Tour and Outdoor Expo at Wildwood Park.
In addition to fishing legends such as Roland Martin and Denny Brauer, anglers scheduled to fish Clarks Hill Lake during the four-day event include Las Vegas pro fisherman Byron Velvick, better known as the latest "Bachelor" from ABC's popular reality show.
The tournament's purse totals $618,000, which includes $100,000 for the first-place finisher, said Ken Duke, senior publicist from BASS. The event will be filmed by ESPN Outdoors for a telecast scheduled to air from 10 to 11 a.m. March 12.
For Columbia County, the event represents one of the largest tournaments lured in by the new $1.1 million fishing tournament facility built at Wildwood using local sales tax dollars. Thousands of spectators are expected, especially Saturday and March 6 during the Outdoor Expo.
The expo, which accompanies the fishing tour, includes mobile tackle shops, boat and equipment shows and demonstrations, promotional exhibits, casting lessons, and other events for children, anglers and spectators.
Monday through Wednesday are practice days. Competition will be held Thursday and Friday, after which the field will be narrowed to 12 anglers Saturday. The six highest finishers Saturday will battle it out March 6 for the final round.
Weigh-ins will be held at 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 3:30 p.m. Saturday and March 6.
The Outdoor Expo will be held Saturday and March 6. Admission is free, but parking costs $2.
BASS, the world's largest fishing organization, sanctions more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its federation.
The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail, which includes the new Bassmaster Elite 50 series, is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass fishing tournament circuit.
This year's action culminates with the Bassmaster Classic, scheduled for July 29-31 in Pittsburgh, with a $700,000 purse and a $200,000 prize for the top finisher. For more details, visit espn.go.com/outdoors/bassmaster. For local information, visit www. columbiacountyga.gov/home/index.asp.
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