Greenville, SC — During the biggest fishing event of the year, members of the South Carolina Legislative Sportsmen's Caucus learned first hand about the scope of bass fishing and the popularity of tournament fishing at the 38th Annual Bassmaster Classic, held in Greenville on nearby Lake Hartwell.
On Friday, February 22, Representative Phil Owens was an official observer, spending the entire first day of competition from launch to weigh-in with Tommy Biffle, a longtime bass fishing pro. Representative Mike Pitts addressed the Conservation Directors of the BASS Federation Nation meeting, an affiliation of BASS State Federation Chapters.
On Saturday, Aaron Hobbs, Director of NASC, caught up with Representative Pitts and Representative Owens and was joined by Representatives Rex Rice, Mike Gambrell and Don Bowen — all caucus members. The group toured the Bassmaster Classic OutdoorsExpo, attended the weigh-in and met with BASS Conservation Director Chris Horton.
The legislators were awed by the enormity of the Classic, often called the "Super Bowl" of fishing. The activities, the crowds and the Expo generated millions of tourism dollars for Greenville's economy during the week. Estimates completed by previous host cities predict the economic impact at a conservative $20 plus-million dollars in revenue.
Representative Pitts summed it up, "The Classic is truly a spectacular event. The world gets to see South Carolina's heritage, hospitality and rich natural resources. This extensive media exposure can only enhance our standing as a tourism destination for sportsmen. We must also remember that South Carolina's 585,000 fishermen and hunters spend nearly $4.8 million dollars a day and support over 32,000 jobs. The ripple effect is $2.8 billion for the state's economy every year. As a group, sportsmen wield a lot of clout."