Langley – For one long weekend in February, Grand Lake was the center of the bass fishing world. Countless eyes were focused on its 46,500 acres of water as it played host to the prestigious 2013 Bassmaster Classic and the 53 professional fishermen who came from all over the country to cast a line into Oklahoma’s premier water destination.
Those who attended the event certainly know there was a lot going on: early morning launches, late afternoon weigh-ins, anglers in action on the water and more activities and pageantry to go hand-in-hand with the sport’s biggest moments.
For many of those moments, as well as the preparations leading up to them, the Grand River Dam Authority and its employees played an important role. Like other event organizers and volunteers, the GRDA team put in plenty of man-hours before and during the event to help promote a classic experience on a grand lake.
GRDA Fisheries/Tournament Coordinator Brent Davis is no stranger to bass tournaments. Though the Bassmaster Classic is the most popular event of its kind to visit Grand Lake, Davis has worked with many tournaments, organizations and anglers over the years to insure things go smoothly throughout their tournament experience.
“My job at the Classic was everything from crowd control to valet parking,” Davis said with a laugh, although his duties really went far beyond that, all the way to helping get the fish back into the water.
“We handled the fish, brought them back and returned them safely to Grand. That is very important for GRDA; we want all our fish turned back into the lake at every tournament at the highest possible survival rate. We work very hard at it and have been successful.”
Still, before those fish could ever be caught, the anglers had to get their boats into the water. GRDA was a part of this process by constructing the new tournament complex boat ramps at the Wolf Creek site. Fortunately, the mild winter cooperated when the GRDA Facilities Management Crew poured the concrete for the new ramps in late December. That project, and associated dirt work at the site, was a large part of GRDA’s financial contribution to the new tournament complex which was completed in partnership with other entities likes the city of Grove, Oklahoma Department of Parks and Tourism, Oklahoma Department of Transportation and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Long after the Classic has passed, the complex they helped to build will continue to benefit the area.
“By building the new ramps, GRDA was able to accomplish many things,” said GRDA Chief Executive Officer/Director of
Investments Dan Sullivan. “As part of the new fishing tournament complex, these ramps – which are built on GRDA property – will help enhance public access to Grand Lake. Not only does that meet our lake management mission but the popularity of the Classic, which was such a regional success, has brought a lot of recognition to Grand Lake. That is a great boost for GRDA’s economic development mission.”
Promoting the lakes area supports the local economy, and GRDA employees did their part during the Bassmaster Classic.
Employees from several departments, including GRDA Lake Relations, Police Department and Ecosystems Management manned booths at both the Grove Boat Show and the Classic Expo in Tulsa. It was an opportunity to share GRDA’s story, meet the public, promote lake-related programs and talk about important lake issues with long-time residents and first-time visitors.
“We had a lot of visitors stop by our booth,” said GRDA Ecosystems Lab Specialist Roger Simmons. “It was great to hear all the positive things they had to say about the tournament and the lake itself.” Though he is normally found working in the lab at the Ecosystems and Education Center, he was part of the workforce at the Classic Expo in Tulsa.
Back at the lake, the GRDA Police Department was at work in the early morning hours to provide assistance at the launch site. As the anglers hit the water each morning at 7AM, GRDA patrol boats were close by to provide a safe traffic lane from Wolf Creek to the rest of the lake. At the same time, the GRDA helicopter was overhead, providing eyes in the sky as well.
“Our officers enjoyed the opportunity to ensure the safety of the anglers and spectators,” said GRDA Assistant General Manager and Chief of Law Enforcement and Homeland Security Brian Edwards. “We had no incidents during the tournaments in spite of the challenging weather. We think the event was a great success. “
Overall, the efforts of many GRDA employees went a long way in helping to make the 2013 event on Grand Lake a successful and memorable event.
“Events like the Bassmaster Classic help to highlight what many have known for years about the Grand Lake area,” said Sullivan. “This area is a wonderful destination, and helping to promote it and preserve it are foundational to GRDA’s mission. I want to thank the GRDA employees who worked so hard to help make the event such a success.”
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