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FISHCAP drums up support for Bassmasters Elite tournament

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WADDINGTON - Organizers of the Bassmaster Elite Series Tournament scheduled to take place in St. Lawrence County in August are drumming up support for the event from the county’s municipal leaders.

The “St. Lawrence River Showdown,” organized by FishCap and sponsored by Bass Anglers Sportsman Society is scheduled for Aug. 8 to 11, with an additional week of practice time prior to the tournament.

While the planning is still in its “infancy stages,” FISHCAP Coordinator Donald R. Meissner has been busy trying to spread the word and drum up support from various municipalities in the county, including St. Lawrence County legislators on Tuesday.

“They are very excited about it,” he said. “They are very eager to help.”

FISHCAP, an initiative by the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce, has begun working with several municipalities and volunteer organizers to form different committees, including a liaison and fundraising committee.

“We’re getting committees set up,” Waddington Mayor Janet M. Otto Cassada said. “We might have an opening dinner for businessmen and college leaders to bring them up to date on what this going to be happening.”

The tournaments, Mr. Meissner said, will require efforts from multiple organizations, government agencies and businesses in the area.

“We need everyone to be on board,” Mr. Meissner said. “These tournaments tend to bring in $2.5 million to $5 million in revenue.”

A grandstand will be set up in Whittaker Park, Waddington, and registration will take place at Madrid-Waddington Central School. However, fishing will take place in the St. Lawrence River from areas as far west as Ogdensburg and east to Massena, Mr. Meissner said.

“The reason Waddington was chosen was because of its need to place a grandstand,” Mr. Meissner said. “However, I want people to know hotels rooms, restaurants, and every kind of business — from Ogdensburg, Canton, Potsdam — will all be involved.”

B.A.S.S. coordinators first became impressed with the area after learning New York State BASS Chapter Federation tournament had some of the biggest weigh-ins and catches in the country, Mr. Meissner said.

“They were also amazed at the vast amount of water and beautiful surroundings, which they thought would make a great backdrop for a tournament,” Mr. Meissner said. “Coles Creek, they said, was one of the most beautiful campgrounds they had ever seen.”

Campsites have already been booked in Coles Creek for next year, he said.

“It’s our opportunity to put on a tournament like no other Elite event,” said Mr. Meissner. “We need to present our special way of life here in the north country, and showcase it to the rest of the world.”

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