Pgh Bass Tournament
Posted July 22 2012 - 11:26 PM
Posted July 23 2012 - 06:46 AM
Posted July 23 2012 - 05:45 PM
Posted July 27 2012 - 06:52 AM
James Knox | Tribune-Review Scott Vensel casts his line under the shadow of the Birmingham Bridge while fishing from a pier in South Side Riverfront Park on Thursday, July 19, 2012.Rivers, fish back in the spotlight
By Bob Frye
Published: Sunday, July 22, 2012, 3:43 p.m.
Updated: Sunday, July 22, 2012
This hosting fishing tournaments thing is getting to be commonplace for Pittsburgh.
In 2005, the city — with rivers once so polluted they were a safety hazard — brought the Bassmaster Classic to town, showing people how clean and productive its waters had become. In 2009, the equally large and prestigious FLW Forrest Wood Cup came here.
Now, there’s something new.
On Sept. 27-29, the city will host the Marcellus Shale Coalition 3 Rivers Challenge, a made-for-television bass and walleye tournament featuring 14 top pros from FLW Outdoors’ tours. The three-day event will start with a watershed festival, evolve into a pro-am tournament featuring pros and celebrities, then conclude with a full-on professional competition.
The tournament will be filmed and broadcast nationally on NBC Sports Network on Oct. 28.
Pittsburgh is the perfect venue for such an event, given its sports traditions, its large base of outdoorsmen and especially its rivers, said Robert Petrilli, senior vice president of the Shale Coalition.
“Our rivers are our treasures. The three rivers are what identify us and make us who we are,” Petrilli said. “So we’re really trying to create a special event.”
“It’s a tremendous opportunity to showcase our rivers and the area itself on national television,” added Michael Dongilli, senior vice president of ISM/USA, the group that puts on the Three Rivers Regatta and is managing this event, too.
“I think it’s going to be a tremendous event. When you figure in the number of boat registrations that come out of this area and the number of fishing licenses sold locally, there could be a phenomenal turnout among fans.”
Visitors to the event may see some big fish brought in, too, said Denny Tubbs, outreach coordinator in the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s southwest region office.
That didn’t happen in 2005; Kevin Van Dam won the Bassmaster Classic with the lowest total weight ever. Things went a little better in 2009, when Greg Hackney won the Forrest Wood Cup with not much more weight.
But there should be smallmouth bass up to 4 pounds from the 2005 spawn, the largest ever recorded on the rivers, and walleyes up to 9 pounds or more, Tubbs said.
And no matter what, fans will have plenty to do, he added. The tournament will feature a mini outdoors show, a family fishing event in which free fishing rods will be given to the first 300 children. This all will happen during the Pirates’ final — and potentially important — homestand of the season.
“It’s going to be interesting, and all of it is free to fans, so people can show up to watch,” Tubbs said. “The fishing’s going to be over before the Pirates-Reds game each night, too, so people can come down, watch the weigh-ins and then go to a baseball game.”
Exactly which pros — seven from FLW’s bass circuit and seven from its walleye tour — will fish the event won’t be finalized until this week at the earliest. But expect some big names, said Chad ***, communications director for FLW Outdoors.
“We do a lot of tournament events in a year, 191 in fact, so it’s pretty hard to find time in the calendar to do a lot of these events. But whenever we get a chance to give back to a community or a charity, we’re glad to do it,” *** said.
There is a charitable arm to this event. The Shale Coalition is going to be awarding grants to a number of yet-to-be-named river-based conservation groups, Petrilli said.
“It’s an opportunity to bring pro fishing back into the area in a big way and benefit some conservation groups and make it all worthwhile,” Dongilli said. “It’s pretty exciting.”
Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-838-5148.
The full Marcellus Shale Coalition 3 Rivers Challenge schedule is still being finalized. It’s to be ready, and a full marketing effort is to begin, no later than about six weeks before the tournament itself, officials said.
In the meantime, you can get a glimpse of what’s going on by visiting www.msc3riverschallenge.com.
When the time comes, pay attention to how the pros — and the walleye anglers in particular — do in Pittsburgh. If they catch lots of large fish and leave impressed with the city, local organizers have dreams of hosting FLW’s national walleye championship here sometime in the future, said Fish and Boat Commission spokesman Denny Tubbs.
About Bob Frye
Tribune-Review Outdoors writer Bob Frye can be reached via e-mail or at 724-838-5148.
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