NY officials, celebrities compete in Governor’s Challenge

AUBURN, N.Y. — As he did a year ago, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo dropped in on a Bassmaster Elite Series tournament being held in his state.

His mission each time was to promote tourism, meet with B.A.S.S. officials and do a little fishing. In conjunction with the A.R.E. Truck Caps Bassmaster Elite at Cayuga Lake, N.Y., Cuomo also invited some of his friends, including state officials, celebrities and Elite anglers to participate in the Bassmaster Governor’s Challenge on Owasco Lake. See photos of the Bassmaster Governor's Challenge.

During the two-hour fishing tournament on Saturday, Aug. 23, Elite Series pros who failed to make the Top 50 at Cayuga served as guides and boat captains for the fishing teams. Cuomo and Don Logan, an owner of B.A.S.S., fished with Joe Sancho of New Windsor, N.Y., the only Cuomo constituent in the Elites.

While Greg Hackney was putting together a 23-pound limit of bass on the next Finger Lake over, anglers on Owasco — including the governor — struggled. Catching limits wasn’t the point, noted B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin.

“The Bassmaster Governor’s Challenge was meant to be a fun event, but more importantly, it opened the eyes of participants to the magnificent fisheries and resources of New York, and it gave them a taste of the great sport of competitive bass fishing,” he said. “Fishing is a big sport in the U.S. and in this state, and that translates into tourism and other economic revenue.”

It’s all about tourism and jobs, Cuomo emphasized during a luncheon speech a short time later.

“From the shores of Long Island to the expansive Thousand Islands, to the beautiful Finger Lakes region, New York State is home to some of the most enjoyable and scenic fishing locations in the entire world,” Cuomo said. “Fishing is more than just an exciting recreational sport; it is a major driver of tourism, jobs and economic activity in communities all across New York State. We look forward to building on our partnership with the Bassmaster Elite Series to continue to bring attention and more visitors to our state’s unparalleled tourism attractions, and display what we can offer anglers and all those who visit the Empire State.”

Cuomo also spoke about the importance of fishing to New York’s economy, generating $1.8 billion and employing 17,000 people. The state has been busy the last few years trying to boost that industry. Two years ago, he noted, the Open for Hunting and Fishing initiative streamlined license fees and lowered charges for out-of-state anglers. The state’s budget included $4 million to improve fish hatcheries and additional funding to open 50 new access points for fishing.

Cuomo announced that the Elite Series would be back in New York in 2015, returning to Waddington, N.Y., on the St. Lawrence River. Elite events have been held in New York each season since Cuomo was elected governor.