LAKE MURRAY, SC — One of the nation’s premier fishing tournaments is coming back to Lake Murray next summer in what promises to be the first of several periodic returns.
The Forrest Wood Cup for top-rated professional and amateur bass anglers will be held there in mid-August 2014, tourism officials said Thursday.
It’s the second time the event has been at the 47,500-acre lake, although related qualifying competitions take place often. The tournament first came in 2008.
“This is definitely a place we want to come back to every couple of years,” said Chris Hoover of FLW, the organization that sponsors the event.
His organization is impressed not only by the quality of fishing but also with efforts by local officials to provide other entertainment for fans of the sport during the four-day tournament, he said.
The competition’s return cements the lake’s growing national reputation as a prime spot for bass fishing, officials said.
“This is the Super Bowl of fishing coming,” lake tourism director Miriam Atria said.
It will bring 92 anglers and their entourages to the Midlands for up to two weeks.
State and local tourism officials plan to surround the competition again with family-oriented events such as concerts as well as those associated with the sport.
It will be put on with revenue chipped in by state, county and municipal sources. No total was available immediately.
The event generated $16.1 million in revenue during its last run here, state tourism officials said.
As occurred in 2008, events will stretch from boats launched at Dreher Island State Recreation area near Prosperity to exhibits and displays at the convention center in downtown Columbia.
Most will be free and open to the public as part of an effort “to grow our sport,” Hoover said.
Besides the boost in sales, hotel and meal tax income, the tournament also will provide a snapshot of the Midlands to fishing fans who watch it on cable television and may be attracted to visit later, officials said.
Luring the tournament back is “a big deal,” state tourism director Duane Parrish said.
Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.