It was an event Martinez resident Sabrina Griffin made sure to attend with her son Charles Griffin Jr.
Chad Lowe (left) plays a fishing game Saturday with his friend Cleve Chancey, both of Augusta, at Wildwood Park during the Citgo Bassmaster Tour Tournament. The county hopes to attract a larger tournament in 2006, the American Bass Anglers event, which will be held in Louisiana this year.
Photo by Quandra Collins
"I loved the weigh-in," she said with a smile. "I like the exhibits, and the community support has been awesome. I hope to come back next year."
The event was the Citgo Bassmaster tournament at Wildwood Park. It ended last weekend, attracting a large crowd of boaters and thousands of spectators.
While the sound of heavy metal music played in the background, the noise of thundering applause from more than 200 spectators reverberated in the air at the tournament at Wildwood Park Saturday.
The reason for spectators' excitement was explained after fans watched New Jersey pro Mike Iaconelli weigh in a five-fish, 14- pound, 9-ounce limit to add to his previous two days' total.
"It was a struggle to get bites. I've been getting seven to 10 bites a day," he said about his performance, which advanced him to Sunday's "Super Six" final round. "But just like any other athlete, I'm in the zone."
B.A.S.S. event coordinating intern Melinda Mize (left) helps 10-year-old Anthony Powers, of Augusta, to cast at the Bassmaster Casting Kids exhibit at the 2005 Citgo Bassmaster Tournament.
Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker
Californian Mike Reynolds ended up taking the event's $100,000 first prize.
While anglers from throughout the nation fished to catch the largest bass Clarks Hill Lake could offer, Stacie Adkins, the county's special events coordinator, said the tournament reeled in a huge amount of success.
"We've been looking for a big event to come to the county to promote Wildwood Park," Adkins said, adding the park received a $1.1 million face lift from county sales tax money before the tournament.
Despite a 20-minute rain and power outage Saturday, Adkins said she was extremely pleased with the event's turnout, which she estimated on Monday at a total of about 14,000 people. That figure, she said, was far beyond what had been anticipated, with only about 3,000 people expected to attend on Saturday and Sunday combined. She said the event attracted people from 19 states and 27 Georgia counties.
"This is the first time we did something this big," she said.
Professional angler Byron Velvick of Boulder City, Nev., pulls his boat up with his finance, Mary Delgado, of Tampa, Fla., after the second day of the Citgo Bassmaster tournament. Velvick and Delgado appeared on a series of the television show The Bachelor.
Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker
And with such success, the county is now preparing to land yet another bass fishing tournament that could be twice the size of this past weekend's event in its number of anglers. That event, called the American Bass Anglers tournament, attracts about 600 anglers, Adkins said. She said officials with the tournament recently contacted the county about possibly having the event next year at Wildwood Park. This year's American Bass Anglers event is taking place in Louisiana, she said.
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