As the sun just begins to peek over the treetops this weekend, anglers in small-town Alabama will be ready to wet some hooks.
The Alabama Bass Trail (ABT) 100 takes place on Saturday at Lake Wedowee. The tournament brings 100 boats and more than 200 people to the Lake Wedowee area.
Dorothy Tidwell, director of the Randolph County Chamber of Commerce, said she’s worked hard to bring the ABT to Lake Wedowee because she wants people to know about what she calls “a hidden gem in Alabama.”
“I’m very excited because I’ve been trying to get to Lake Wedowee for years,” Tidwell said. “We have a lot of natural resources, the country is just very pretty.”
Anglers start from the Highway 48 area of Lake Wedowee. Eric Morris, co-owner of Wedowee Marine South, said his team spent hours preparing for the influx of boaters. He said he was grateful to be part of such a historic event for the region.
“This is going to be the biggest cash tournament this lake has ever seen,” Morris said. “Someone will come out of here smelling like rose.”
Entrepreneurs aren’t the only ones preparing for the tournament. Competitors have already explored the area.
“They’ve been here before,” Morris explained. “Gosh they’ve been coming into town in the last few weeks and it’s all really good for the local economy, the restaurants, everything.”
While there are challenges to having so many people in the small town, Tidwell said the event would be worth a lot to the local economy.
“We’re a rural community in Alabama, so there aren’t many amenities,” Tidwell added. “Wedowee has a new hotel, the Old Waters Inn. It’s really, really nice but we have limited facilities for the anglers but some rent lake houses. But it’s great to have all these anglers and all these people come here. It is a real economic opportunity for our rural community. They will shop here, they will eat here, they will buy gas here, and we like that.”
The nationwide announcement, Tidwell hopes, could encourage more people to see Lake Wedowee and the surrounding areas as an opportunity to visit and take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
“Not only is it pretty here, it’s very quiet, very relaxed,” Tidwell said.
There will be two more stops at the ABT 100 2023. Miller’s Ferry takes place on June 3rd and Lewis Smith Lake on November 4th. Each tournament has $100,000 in prizes.
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