Competitors descend on Grand Lake for Bassmaster Classic

GROVE, Okla. - As the more than 50 expert anglers launched from the dock of Grand Lake Friday morning, fans and spectators retreated to Grove's Main Street, where local businesses figure to reel some of the estimated $26 million in economic gains from the world championships of bass fishing.

One of those small businesses, Drake's Restaurant, was the scene of a breakfast buffet Friday morning. Eggs, bacon, sausage patties, potatoes, french toast and biscuits filled trays, mouths and then stomachs.

It's not uncommon for Drake's to serve about 150 locals each day. This week, however, that number is closer to 300, with patrons looking for a bite from as near as Tulsa and as far as Texas and Tokyo.

"It's super for our business. Just more people, you know, in town," Jerry Drake said. "More people coming into the restaurant."

More business is always good, but it especially helps Grove establishments like Drake's, when things are a bit slower during winter.

"It helps us pay the bills. This time of year is kind of slow, you know, and it's use a tremendous help to the city and help to us personally," said Drake.

Grove Mayor Marty Follis said the Bassmaster Classic probably won't bring in the kind of cash other fishing tournaments with a bigger field typically bring. What will be gained from the classic that can't be duplicated in other tournaments, he said, is the advertising and publicity.

In addition to local media attending the launch, the Weather Channel went live from the event and journalists from Japan are documenting the weekend.

"It's indescribable. It's it's it's the Super Bowl. Not too many people get this opportunity," Follis said.

That publicity, he said, can be rolled into more tourism for his city and also serve to remind Oklahomans that a beautiful getaway is within driving distance.

"It's a hidden gem. A lot of people don't know about it," Follis said. "There's people in Tulsa who don't know where Grand Lake is, so there's going to be a lot of people knowing where that is and they're going to be able to go fishing where the pros fish."

Overall, 100,000 fans are expected to participate in Bassmaster Classic festivities in Grove and Tulsa.

Today 2NEWS reporter Max Resnik is in Grove talking to people in the community who are sharing why this is such a big deal for the area.  Stay tuned for his report tonight at 5.

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