BUFORD - With the help of Gov. Sonny Perdue, Lake Lanier Islands has lured in a big fish - a major fishing tournament.
Perdue joined members of the Professional Anglers Association on Tuesday to announce the planning of the tournament, which is expected to draw the top bass anglers to the Buford attraction.
The Governor's Go Fish Georgia Pro/Am Tournament is scheduled for Nov. 1, and the anglers association is hoping to bring its championship tournament Nov. 2-4, although those dates have not been confirmed.
Perdue announced the Go Fish initiative in January during his State of the State address. The intent is to establish Georgia as a national fishing destination by improving access to lakes and rivers and increasing participation in the sport. Plans call for the development of a Go Fish Georgia Visitors Center and Hatchery and a bass fishing trail that will include mega-ramps capable of accommodating large fishing tournaments.
"This tournament is exactly what I envisioned as part of the Go Fish Georgia initiative," Perdue said. "It will generate excitement about fishing in Georgia, encourage families to get outdoors together and provide a positive economic impact for the local community. I would love to see this tournament become an annual event in Georgia."
Two of the nation's top pro anglers, Tom Mann Jr. and Mike Auten, attended Tuesday's announcement.
At the event, Lake Lanier Islands Resort owner Virgil Williams announced talks with the Army Corps of Engineers and Georgia Department of Natural Resources to secure a location at the south end of the lake for a mega-ramp.
"Gov. Perdue recognizes that if the state can tap into large fishing tournaments, local economies will benefit all over the state," Williams said. "It makes a lot of sense. We have accommodations, infrastructure and quick access to the interstate."
Professional Anglers Association officials said a tournament with a $1 million purse would mean a $250,000 donation to the Go Fish Georgia as well as a $50,000 donation to the Catch a Dream Foundation, a national children's charity where outdoor wishes are granted to terminally ill children.