One of the largest events in the world of competitive fishing is coming to Columbia later this month. Crappie USA and Cabela’s, two of the premiere organizations in the sport, will be hosting the season-ending 2020 Classic Oct. 22-24 at Green River Lake.
“We have so many avid fishermen that love to come to Green River for our weekend events. We’ve been there for probably the last seven or eight years in a row,” said Darrell Van Vactor, operations manager for Crappie USA and Bass Pro/Cabela’s King Kat Trail.
“Green River has just become more and more popular. It is such an excellent fishery for a lot of reasons. It may not have some of the biggest crappie, but the main thing is it has a tremendous crappie population. Also, it is such a beautiful place.”
David Butler of Holmes Bend Marina, which will serve as the weigh-in site for the tournament, said the event’s impact on the local community would be much needed.
“The obvious things (economic) are restaurants, hotels, gasoline. Many of these competitors will be bringing their families with them,” Butler said. “However, to me the most important thing is getting the face of Adair County and Green River Lake on the national map. This is a very big deal for us.”
Van Vactor agrees with Butler, expecting the financial impact on Columbia to approach $800,000 to $1 million.
The tournament is scheduled to start Oct. 22 with the anglers registering at the Jim Blair Community Recreation Center from noon to 5 p.m. There will be a dinner for the fishermen at 7 p.m.
The competition will start Friday at 6:30 a.m. when the anglers hit the water. They must finish by 3 p.m. and must be in the weigh-in line by 4 p.m. The routine will be very similar on Saturday with the fishing set to start again at 6:30 a.m., and the fishermen must be in the weigh-in line by 4 p.m. The awards banquet is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Van Vactor said the COVID-19 pandemic would have an impact on the tournament field. A total of 214 teams qualified to compete in the tournament; however, he believes the total number of teams on the water in Columbia will probably be around 115 to 140. Some will have come from as far away as Colorado and New Jersey.
One of the top contenders for the tournament title is a team from Columbia. David Jones and Cory Thomas have consistently been one of the top duos on the fishing circuit.
Van Vactor added the weekend would be a good opportunity for the public to interact with the contestants. He said fishing fans are encouraged to attend the weigh-ins each day. Also, children 12 years old and under are invited to participate in the tournament’s rodeo, which serves as an avenue to generate more interest in the sport among the younger population. The children will have a chance to win college scholarships.
Butler said for further information on the crappie tournament, call the tourism office at 1-888-837-8012 or Holmes Bend at 270-384-4425.
By Scott Wilson