Hundreds of anglers en route to Clewiston this weekend

Anglers prepare for a tournament on Lake Okeechobee.

Anglers prepare for a tournament on Lake Okeechobee.

This weekend, Clewiston welcomes the first of three fishing tournaments scheduled this month on the south side of Lake Okeechobee.

About 400 hundred anglers and co-anglers will be making the trek to America’s Sweetest Town this Saturday, Jan. 3 for the Walmart Bass Fishing League (BFL) tournament.

The BFL is broken down into 24 divisions, each with four, one-day events and one two-day event per division.

The Gator Division invites anglers to Lake Okeechobee during the months of January, February, April and August. Clewiston will host the Gator Division this Saturday and again on Jan. 31 at Roland and Mary Ann Martin Marina. Okeechobee’s C. Scott Driver Park will host the three remaining events in February, April and August.

Saturday’s event carries a $6,000 payout to the top angler and a $3,000 payout to the top co-angler, plus $1,000 for biggest bass and other contingency awards.

In addition to the payouts, top winners in the BFL tournament have the chance to move up to the Rayovac FLW Series or even the FLW Tour — where bigger prizes and greater recognition await.

The first round of the Southeast Division in the Rayovac Series will also be hosted in Clewiston at Roland and Mary Ann Martin Marina this month, beginning Jan. 22 and ending Jan. 24. The series is expected to bring a total of 400 anglers and co-anglers to town during the weekend-long event.

The Rayovac Series offers up to $40,000 to the top professional angler, plus a boat and outboard motor; co-anglers can win up to $5,000 plus a boat and outboard motor during the series.

Anglers are also competing for priority entry into the FLW Tour during the three-part Rayovac Series.

Despite missing out on the televised Walmart FLW Tour — which travels to Orlando this year instead of Clewiston — the city will still benefit from the hundreds of anglers and their family members traveling to town for the BFL and Rayovac tournaments during the month of January.

One question that remains is will the economic impact from these three events compete with the Walmart FLW Tour, which is estimated to have a $1.55 million impact on the city?

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