The Pryor Times

Agriculture

March 8, 2014

Getting ready for the big fish

PRYOR, OK — Salina has hooked one heck of an opportunity.

While the rumor of an upcoming professional bass fishing tournament has turned into a bit of a fish tale, the opportunity is underway.

At a recent Salina Chamber of Commerce banquet, a project was announced involving Commissioner Ryan Ball, Grand River Dam Authority, and Rep. Doug Cox.

Ball said the town is going to have a bass tournament on Lake Hudson and that events could start happening as soon as this summer. Cox and Kimble say that isn’t exactly the case.

“It is in the early stages of planning. We have a unique setting in our area with three great bass fisheries in close proximity (Grand, Hudson, and Fort Gibson lakes). The idea is to have a ‘Superbowl of Fishing’ where the fisherman would spend one day on each lake,” said Cox. “We need a larger facility on Lake Hudson for such a tournament, similar to the Wolf Creek Launching Facility built on Grand. This facility will serve Salina and the Lake Hudson area well to help attract many other tournaments in addition to the proposed three-day event. I have seen first-hand the economic benefits that the facility in Grove has provided for long after the Bassmaster Classic was completed.”

These tournaments provide a great source of year-round income, Cox said, particularly for motels, restaurants and gas stations.

“They are working with ESPN and the Fishing Network to get television coverage of such an event. There is no other comparable event in the U.S,” said Cox.

“We are fortunate that with the new CEO Dan Sullivan at GRDA and the new GRDA board members, GRDA is taking a greater interest in the economic development of the communities they serve. They have been major players in the Grand Lake facility (contributing materials, equipment use, and labor), and I feel they would be in a Lake Hudson facility as well,” Cox said.

Cox said he is hopeful this event will become something that helps Salina from an economic standpoint, while it still maintains its small town values and charm.

Tom Kimball, GRDA board member, said he appreciates Ball’s exuberance on the project.

“To be clear, there is no tournament scheduled as of now, but we are creating the opportunity for one in the future by working with Commissioner Ball to build this facility so that tournaments could be hosted at Hudson,” said Kimball.

Kimball added that the facility in the works will be built primarily by GRDA and while tournaments are being discussed, the facility must be completed first.

“It is an extremely complicated process. There are seven or eight agencies that must be coordinated, environmental and feasibility studies must be done. We have to get EPA permits which can take from 30 days to 30 months. We also have to coordinate a Wildlife Department grant which is dependent on the budget flow out of Washington,” Kimball said.

Kimball said there will be unique challenges on this project, that the Grand Lake project did not have.

He said Lake Hudson is far more shallow. Grand Lake had hundred of options where to put the facility and over 1,000 miles of shoreline. Hudson does not.

“However, bass fishing is great on Hudson so it makes sense to do this. On behalf of GRDA, we will do everything we can to facilitate this project,” Kimball said.

There are fishing opportunities aplenty in Oklahoma and Kimball is excited about what that means for Salina.

“People think this is a flat land full of tepees, but imagine when they see our beautiful lakes on ESPN how that changes the appeal of the whole state,” said Kimball. “This type of project is good for everyone, promoting tourism and helping the economy.”

World-class lakes are just sitting there, ready to be used, Kimball said.

“People are becoming aware of the quality fishing available in Oklahoma. But they don’t realize we have more miles of shoreline on a man-made lake than any other state, or that there are now more bass fisherman than golfers,” said Kimball.

“The difference there is that when a golf fan is watching Sunday morning golf, he thinks to himself, ‘Man, I’d love to play that course.’ The reality is that only a minute percentage of people will play that course. Now, when a bass fisherman sees our lake on television, from anywhere in the nation, and thinks to himself, ‘Man, I want to fish there,’ he absolutely can. Every single viewer can come fish in our lake,”

Salina Chamber of Commerce would like to remind everyone that during the planning of this new facility, the chamber will continue to host its annual Big Bass Challenge which is scheduled for May 10.

 

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