Dandridge and Douglas Lake will host 100 pro bass fishermen this weekend, as a national fishing tournament comes to Jefferson County for the first time.
"Some people call it the 'World Series,' others call it the preface of the 'Super Bowl' of bass fishing," Eric Lopez explained the Bassmasters Elite Series. Dandridge is the 4th of the tournament's eight stops.
"East Tennessee is an awesome bass fishing area- seven or eight really good lakes around," said Brandon Card, one of the tournament's contestants. The Norris native is one of some 6,000 people expected to be in Dandridge for the series this weekend.
Tournament officials said each stop of the Bassmasters Elite Series pumps $900,000 to $1.1 million to each local economy, through lodging and restaurant sales. Jefferson County tourism officials expect this weekend will bring in well over $1 million; adding a smaller bass tournament last year netted $900,000.
"The last couple of weeks, folks started trickling in... and now, it's just gonna go off from here," said Cherie Hogencamp with the Dandridge Hampton Inn. She said every room in the hotel is booked for the tournament. Dandridge Mayor George Gantte said most other hotels in the area are also full.
Bassmaster officials said exposure from national media this week could make Dandridge a bigger fishing destination in the future.
"Del Rio, Texas is a perfect example -- where we started the series," Lopez said. "We put that city on the map for fishing, and people are going to that city for the next several years because they saw it on ESPN2."
Competitor Brandon Card said Douglas Lake has a prime opportunity to show the nation it can be a vacation spot for fishermen.
"This lake suits anyone's style... and I can see everyone having a good time here," Card said.
The tournament will be shown on ESPN2. If you would like to come see the tournament, free parking is available at the corner of Cherokee Drive and Main Street in Dandridge. More information can be found on Bassmasters' website.