What would you do with $50,000? That’s the exact question Charlie Williams and Michael Smith are asking themselves after winning the Alabama Bass Trail Tournament Series Championship two weeks ago.
The tournament series championship was the last stop for the bass trail this year and crowned Williams and Smith as its winners following the weekend weigh-ins.
The tournament brought hundreds of people to Lake Martin and consisted of 164 boats with two anglers per boat to compete for the $50,000 grand prize. There were also cash prizes for the other top 25 teams competing.
The Alexander City Chamber of Commerce worked alongside the Alabama Bass Trail to bring this event to Lake Martin. Brandy Hastings, executive director of the Lake Martin Tourism Association, believes hosting this event brings much needed tourism and exposure to the community it wouldn’t see otherwise.
“Although this is my first year helping, we have worked with the Alabama Bass Trail a long time,” Hastings said. “They are a great organization and for them to bring their tournament to our lake was important to us, so we wanted them to be treated well so that they continue to come back and support locally owned businesses.”
According to Hastings, anglers were given a $10 voucher compliments of the chamber to spend at local businesses. This encouraged the anglers to dine at local establishments and keep business flowing. The anglers also stayed in hotels and vacation rentals, helping drive up the local economy, in turn helping pay for roads and schools with the tax dollars seen from the hundreds of visitors.
This was Hastings’ first year working with the Alabama Bass Trail and said she had a blast at the lake while the tournament roared on.
“What was impactful for me was the first morning when the fire truck came out and raised the flag,” Hastings said. “All the boats were in the water facing the flag while the National Anthem played and the sun rose behind them. It was really cool to see.”
Hastings said she couldn’t help but get excited when Williams and Smith won it all during the weigh-ins.
“The moment you see someone win $50,000 and seeing their reaction was special,” Hastings said. “A very cool moment for them and everyone that was there.”
Another thing that stood out to Hastings was how thankful the anglers were to fish at Lake Martin.
“These are real deal anglers from across the state,” Hastings said. “To hear their respect for our lake and that they wanted to come here and how clean it is, I took a lot of pride in that.”
For more information about the Alabama Bass Trail, visit alabamabasstrail.org.
For the latest news about bass fishing in Alabama, download and listen to the ABT Podcast on your favorite podcast app by searching for “Alabama Bass Trail Podcast.” The podcast is released each week on Tuesday.