Baxter County Judge Mickey Pendergrass said bass fishing, and fishing in general, bolsters the coffers of the region.
"It's a huge financial boost to the county economy," he said while watching the Day 1 weigh-in of the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops at Bull Shoals Lake. "What Bassmaster has done here is a huge boost. All the hotels listed with our chamber are all located in Baxter County. All the guys are staying here, eating here. These kids can eat.
"They're spending all that money. We're a sales tax revenue dependent economy in our county and city governments. I had one group who met me come up and ask, 'Where's the best place to eat tonight?'"
Baxter County is on the east side of Bull Shoals Lake and site of this week's host, Mountain Home Area Chamber of Commerce. Marion County, which begins when crossing over the dam, benefits as well. That's where the crew at Bull Shoals Boat Dock has been kept busy with the 199 boats.
And Pendergrass isn't just some politician watching tax percentages. He's an angler. A tournament angler who is interested in the competitions. He's even served as a Marshal when the Elites last visited.
The area, which many agree plays a major role in the berth of tournament bass fishing, has so many fishing related businesses.
"We have some major boat manufacturers in the area. It's brought us a lot of notoriety," he said. "Of course, two lakes, three rivers, we draw a lot of people. We don't have the really big bass, but we have lots of bass."
Besides the rarity of clean lake water, Bull Shoals offers more fish and better size. Yet Pendergrass said his best bass was a 6 ½ pounder from Norfork.
Unfortunately, the lifetime B.A.S.S. member landed it in practice, not in a tournament.
"That's what just happened to me on Chickamauga (which led him to a side trip the Classic in Knoxville). I caught one that weighed 9 pounds, but it was not the tournament day -- but that's how it goes. I couldn't find them on tournament days."
Sounds like a fish story.