Fishing Tournaments Could Return

ST. MARYS — A local official is hoping to bring back competitive fishing events on Grand Lake St. Marys.

Grand Lake St. Marys State Park Manager Brian Miller noted the park office recently sent out letters soliciting groups to return their fishing tournaments to the lake.

“Kara Birt came up with the idea,” Miller said, noting the park office manager was active in sending the letters. “Several years ago, we had 100s of competitive fishing tournaments on the lake.”

Fishing tournaments, Miller noted, are a way to benefit the entire region.

“Before the tournaments, guys will come and ‘pre-fish,’” he noted. “They will be eating in our restaurants and staying in our hotels — it’s revenue for our local area.”

So, Miller and Birt sent out letters. Miller sent out letters to groups who have held tournaments on the lake in the past.

“And she took the next step — she got with Indian Lake and located tournaments that were held over there but never over here,” Miller said of Birt.

The ceasing of the amount of tournaments, Miller said, was one of the results of people not being able to be on the lake because of the algae outbreak — something that many of them were misinformed about.

“We were very upfront with our water quality,” Miller said. “And we asked for their feedback.”

In addition to stating facts, Miller noted they also welcomed the groups back to their lake.

“We put the facts in there,” he said. “I think a lot of people are misinformed about the area here, so we are getting the facts out to them.”

The letters note facts such as: The lake was never closed, the fish are safe for consumption, the water quality/algae will not impact a boat or its engine and the algae cannot be transported to another lake via a boat.

The letters also note the state’s investments in the lake and such projects planned for 2012, such as the renovated East Bank launch ramps, the shoreline protection project at Harmon’s Landing, the lake’s receipt of another alum treatment and rough fish removal.

“We’re all trying to think out of the box, we want to get people back,” Miller said.

“Tournaments can have a large impact on our local economy. We thought getting the facts out there would help and trigger them to give us a call and we can talk to them.”

Miller said, even if the groups don’t get on the 2012 calendar, he hopes they will consider the 2013 calendar.