When the sun is just starting to climb up over the treetops this weekend, anglers in small-town Alabama will be ready to wet some hooks.
The Alabama Bass Trail (ABT) 100 takes place on Lake Wedowee Saturday. The tournament will bring 100 boats and more than 200 people into the Lake Wedowee area.
Dorothy Tidwell, director of the Randolph County Chamber of Commerce, said she has worked for a long time to get the ABT to Lake Wedowee because she wants people to know about what she calls "a hidden gem in Alabama."
"I am very excited because I have been trying for years to come to lake Wedowee," Tidwell said. "We have a lot of natural resources, the country is just very pretty."
Anglers will take off from the Highway 48 area of Lake Wedowee. Wedowee Marine South co-owner Eric Morris said his team had spent hours preparing for the influx of boaters. He said he is thankful to be a part of such a historical event for the area.
"This will be the biggest money tournament this lake has ever seen," said Morris. "Somebody's going to be coming out of here smelling like a rose."
Business owners are not the only ones preparing for the tournament. Competitors have already been scoping out the area.
"They have already been here," Morris explained. "Gosh, for the last several weeks, they have been coming into town, and this is all just really good for the local economy, the restaurants, everything."
While there are challenges to having so many people in the small town, Tidwell said the event would be worth a lot for the local economy.
"We're a rural Alabama community, so there's not a lot of amenities," added Tidwell. "Wedowee has one new hotel, the Old Waters Inn. It's really, really nice, but we are kind of limited with facilities for the anglers to stay, but some are doing rental lake houses. But it's great to have all of these anglers and all of these people coming in. It's a real economic opportunity for our rural community. They will be shopping here, they are eating here, they're buying gas here, and we like that."
The statewide exposure, Tidwell hopes, could mean more people will see Lake Wedowee and the surrounding areas as an opportunity to visit and get a real reset from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
"It's not only pretty here, but it's very serene, very laid back," said Tidwell.
There will be two more stops in the 2023 ABT 100. Miller's Ferry will be on June 3 and Lewis Smith Lake on November 4. There will be $100,000 in prizes for each tournament.
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