This year, the city of Clewiston will go without one of its biggest economic drivers: the Walmart FLW Tour. The televised bass fishing tournament brings hundreds of anglers, crew members and sponsors to the area each year the event is held in the city. But the tournament is headed elsewhere this winter, leaving some wondering about the impact it will have on the city’s economy.
According to a 2009 study, the approximate economic impact of the tour on Clewiston is $1.55 million — a huge number for a small city.
The 2015 Walmart FLW tour will be headed to Lake Tohopekaliga (or simply Lake Toho) in Orlando, taking the anglers, sponsors and film crews with it.
But Ramon Iglesias, general manager at Roland and Mary Ann Martin’s Marina, is optimistic about the situation, mostly because part of the FLW tour will still be held in Clewiston.
The televised main event of the tour might not be coming to Clewiston, but the Rayovac FLW series is. And according to Iglesias, the Rayovac tour will bring even more anglers than last year’s main event.
Iglesias said 200 boats are expected at the Rayovac tour, which means 400 anglers and co-anglers will make their way to Clewiston in the third week of January. The tour, he said, will be held in January instead of February this year.
That is 40 more anglers this year than last, and Iglesias said the Marina is already booked to capacity for that week. He said a domino effect will likely take place, with other area hotels and motels filling up quickly.
Though more anglers are expected to come through town, not having the televised Walmart series means the film crews and sponsors won’t be here to fill up hotel rooms, restaurants and gas stations.
“Without having film crews and sponsors, that does have an effect on us, but we’ll have more fisherman,” said Iglesias.
Those fisherman, he said, will be in town for about three to six days, eating, sleeping and fueling up.
Apart from the Rayovac FLW series, two other fishing tournaments will also be held at the Marina during the month of January: the FLW Bass Fishing League tournament. These one-day tournaments are expected to bring another 200 boats to town the first and last week of January.