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Bassmaster Elite angler Randy Howell reels in a small mouth during Monday's practice session. But the fish are going to have to be about twice that size to win. Photo: David Sommerstein
Bassmaster Elite angler Randy Howell reels in a small mouth during Monday's practice session. But the fish are going to have to be about twice that size to win. Photo: David Sommerstein

Bassmaster Elite bringing economic boost to St. Lawrence County

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The country's biggest professional bass anglers are scouting out their best fishing spots on the St. Lawrence River in preparation for the Bassmaster Elite Series competition.

The event is expected to draw thousands of fans to the Waddington area, where the tournament is based.

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David Sommerstein
Reporter/ Producer

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There are 99 anglers in the Elite Series tour. And for many of them, yesterday was their first day on the St. Lawrence.

Randy Howell of Alabama was one of those, but he'll have to learn quick. Anglers have yesterday, today, and half of Wednesday to practice catching the biggest bass from Lake Ontario to Massena. Then the first official launch is Thursday at 6:30 and it's game on.

Howell reels one in, but it wouldn't be a keeper: "We're getting a lot of that size fish right there, that size right here, like a two, two and a half pounder. I don't think that's going to do you any good in this tournament by the way it sounds."

A $100,000 grand prize is on the line for these anglers.

And there's a lot riding for St. Lawrence County, too. Anglers and support teams are booking rentals and restaurants all along the river.

St. Lawrence County chairman Jonathan Putney says the tournament will be a huge economic boost for the whole county: "As you may know, Waddington doesn't have hotels, so the people that are coming to the area are staying in Massena or Ogdensburg or Potsdam or Canton, so it really helps the whole area."

The county contributed $75,000 to help host the event. Students from Clarkson University will gather data this weekend to determine the economic impact of the tournament on the local economy.

The field narrows on Saturday. Then the final 12 anglers compete on Sunday for the top prize. The final weigh-in's the big show, Sunday at 3:15 in Waddington.

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