LINCOLN, AL (WBRC) - Lincoln is already world renowned for a NASCAR superspeedway just outside its city limits. Now the Talladega County city wants to be known for another venue.
The city is working on what council members call a world class fishing tournament facility.
Tuesday at a city council work session, city officials listened to two men discuss their experiences with competitive fishing and how to make it happen in Lincoln.
One of those men, Coach Les Robinson of Central High School in Clay County, coaches a competitive fishing team at that school and spoke of the money those teams and their tournaments can bring into a community.
Robinson says some of those teams are so successful at obtaining sponsorships, they almost become self-sustaining.
An employee for the Talladega County school system says Lincoln High currently doesn’t have a fishing team, but have had a few in the past. He said the last team graduated in one year a few years ago and that’s the last time the school had one.
The council has already made a preliminary investment in the $5 million project by buying land along part of Lake Logan Martin, not far from the Honda plant. The land also is large enough to accommodate a lot of parking, which can be described as a “tailgating atmosphere” even for high school tournaments.
They want to attract tournaments from high school to professional bass tournaments, with as many as 130 boats in a high school tournament, with three people per boat. And all of those people will put something into the local economy, whether it’s eating at nearby restaurants or even staying in nearby hotels.
“We want it to be a world class tournament site, not just an average boat launch, but one that’ll attract all the major bass tournaments to Lincoln and to Alabama, what it will do for our city and our county, and our state,” Mayor Lew Watson said.
Lake Logan Martin is described as ideal for tournaments dealing in bass, crappie, catfish, and other species.
Two of the speakers at the meeting mentioned Gadsden’s Coosa Landing boat launch, and how it operates during fishing tournaments, as something they want to emulate. One of them, nationally syndicated fishing radio host Sammy Lee, says he’s seen fishing sites from Connecticut to California of varying quality, and calls Coosa Landing one of the top five in the country. Robinson described Gadsden’s system for getting up to 250 boats in the water before sunrise, an ideal system that operates “like clockwork.”
It could take up to a year before construction begins, however, as multiple state and federal agencies have to give their approval first. Many of them have 30 day notices, such as ADEM, the EPA, and the ALEA Marine Police, but the Army Corps of Engineers takes longer to investigate and give approval.
Watson says the idea is closer than one might think, however.
“We drew the picture, now it’s up to hiring engineers to make it happen,” Watson says.