Fishing tournament brings economic boost to Rhea County

RHEA COUNTY, Tenn. (WDEF) — A Major League Fishing tournament in Rhea County is bringing in anglers from all over and creating an economic boost for the area.

If you get out on water in Dayton, you are bound to see professional anglers. They are competing in the Stage Four Bass Pro Tour.

“The first time I have been here I caught four or five fish over six pounds. It was unbelievable. This place has some big, big fish in it. I actually caught a seven pounder two days ago and there are a lot of big ones here,” said Dustin Connell, a Major League Fishing pro angler.

Anglers say they also enjoy being in Tennessee.

“I love the mountains up here. You look around and see all of the beautiful scenery. This time of year everything is blooming. Birds are chirping. It is pretty cool out there when you are on the water you get to see all the scenery. I love it here,” Connell said.

Over at the Rhea County Economic and Tourism Council, they seek out these large events.

“We have been using Lake Chickamauga for the last five years as an economic driver for us in the form of tourism, competitive bass fishing. We have a great fishery. We chase these events, really about economic development and tourism,” said Dennis Tumlin, the Rhea County Director of Economic Development.

They’ve seen an increase in tourism over the years.

“I love to see the economic benefit. It is fun to watch the fishing and so forth, but when I see restaurants full at night, when I see hotels full at night. I see downtown flourishing with visitors down in the businesses, that is fun for me,” Tumlin said.

This event is kicking off the start to different activities on the lake.

“We have back to back. In two weeks we will have a giant high school event about 250 boats will be in town,” Tumlin said.

The tournament will end on Sunday.

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