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File / The Outlook Fishing League Worldwide announced Thursday it would be hosting a tournament on the 2020 tour at Lake Martin.

Over the last several years, the attention for Lake Martin has only grown in the fishing world.

Just a few years ago, Lake Martin was home to a high school fishing championship.

That paved the way for a college regional tournament to be hosted here, and now all the big-name tournaments seem to be making their way to the lake.

Thursday, it was announced the 25th tour of the Fishing League Worldwide Tour would be making a stop in Alexander City. FLW is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, and the third stop of this year’s tour will be hosted on Lake Martin from March 19-22, 2020.

“The popularity of the lake has just grown and grown,” Alexander City Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ed Collari said. “It’s also about the quality of fishing at the lake, the cleanliness that we know as Lake Martin is a treasured lake.”

There’s so much that contributes to these high-profile tournaments wanting to come to Lake Martin. Not only does Wind Creek State Park have high-class facilities to host the actual tournaments but Central Alabama Community College can host the pre-tournament meetings and registration.

“That’s something we hear quite a bit of feedback about is the facilities in this community,” Collari said. “The ramps, the stores, the camping, everything out at Wind Creek State Park is perfect for large-scale tournaments. Then we have the facilities at CACC. Being able to host events at the Betty Carol Graham Center is a huge plus for us.”

And there’s countless benefits for Lake Martin and Alexander City to host tournaments of this magnitude. A full field of 150 anglers and they’ll also have a marshal for each boat. Those anglers will also bring their families, friends and fans, all of whom will spend time and money in our community.

Economically, the benefits are countless as fans who watch the FLW Tour on television may also come to Lake Martin afterward to fish the same spots as their favorite anglers. Many of the anglers come to the lake prior to the tournament to practice and scout out good spots and techniques to help them later on.

“Any time we can have a big event on our campus is a positive in my opinion,” said Brett Pritchard, coordinator of public and high school relations at CACC. “It brings notoriety to our school. The tournament directors in the past have bragged on our facilities. A lot of people don’t realize until you hear people from the outside complement our area and how good the facilities are that we do have.”

It also just goes to show how good the fishing is in our own backyard. Avid fishermen in and around Tallapoosa County don’t have to travel to faraway lakes to bring in good bass. While some lakes such as Guntersville may have larger bass, the number and consistency is what draws these bigger tournaments to Lake Martin.

“Year round, this lake produces good fish,” said Pritchard, who is also an avid fisherman and the CACC fishing coach. “Some lakes probably produce bigger largemouth, but from a quality standpoint and numbers standpoint, it’s really a good lake for fishing tournaments. It’s proven that over the last few years, and Lake Martin has been on a fast track.”

Strategically, Collari said having these fishing tournaments during the offseason is helping bring in money year-round to the Alex City community.

“Our strategy is to host as many tournaments during that (offseason) time period,” Collari said. “Having FLW here in March really helps drive additional traffic. Those hotel rooms will be occupied and a lot of people will camp at Wind Creek. When they’re here, we’re giving them as much collateral information about existing businesses and restaurants to shop and spend their time. We want to make sure they know Alex City is a great place to spend a week.”

Practice days will be Sunday, March 15 through Tuesday, March 17. Wednesday will be a community outreach day then the tournament will take place Thursday, March 19 through Sunday, March 22.

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc.