The Bassmaster Elite series is coming to Georgetown in 2016. This will be the first stop ever for the Elite Series, and Georgetown has been making improvements to the Carroll A. Campbell Marine Complex on the Sampit River over the past several years, hoping for such an event in the near future. Things came together even quicker than expected, according to Georgetown County Administrator Sel Hemingway.
After hosting the Inshore Fishing Association Redfish Tour, along with the B.A.S.S. Southern Divisional Championship earlier this year, B.A.S.S. officials deemed the complex ready for something bigger.
“We were working our way up to something like this. The plan was to prove what we’re capable of as an event host with these smaller tournaments and I guess we did a good job, because we were encouraged by B.A.S.S. to accelerate our timeline,” said Hemingway.
While the Campbell Marine Complex will serve as the launch and weigh-in site, anglers won’t be limited to fishing just the Sampit River. This will be a true Winyah Bay event, as all five rivers that form the bay: the Sampit, Santee, Waccamaw, Great Pee Dee, and Black rivers, are listed as tournament waters. This means as long as anglers can reach those spots by boat after launching from the Campbell Complex, they are free to fish them.
The Elite Series tournament will be held April 7-10, with official practice days being April 4-6. This will be a boon to the local economy, and will last longer than just that seven-day period, as many participants are expected to travel to Georgetown several months in advance to familiarize themselves with the river system.
Aside from simply generating money for the local economy, the Elite Series event will also continue its popular marshall program throughout the tournament, which pairs local anglers with the pro anglers, giving them a chance to observe and learn from the nation’s best bass anglers.
The tournament will be held in conjunction with one of the Winyah Bay area’s longstanding spring events, the Winyah Bay Heritage Festival, which showcases wildlife art, outdoor competitions such as duck calling contests, field trials, and dock diving contests for dogs, as well as many others.
About a hundred anglers will fish the event. South Carolina anglers Davy Hite, Marty Robinson, and Casey Ashley are among the expected participants, along with other well-known anglers Mike Iaconelli, Ish Monroe, Skeet Reese, Edwin Evers, and Kevin Van Dam.