Welcome sign for Black Bass Championship (Photos by Paxton Rountree)
The Black Bass World Championship is being hosted in the United States for the first time — in Columbia.
The 16th annual fishing competition will be held at Lake Murray, on the Midlands’ western edge. Teams representing different countries compete to catch the most and the biggest bass and be the winning team.
“There is no money on the line,” said Micah Decker, vice president of marketing at Lake Murray Country. “It’s trophies for gold, silver and bronze. It’s very Olympic style.”
Each team has to be selected by their country to compete. Twenty-five countries will participate this year in the competition, which is sanctioned by FIPSed, the International Federation of Fish Sports for fresh water.
Why Lake Murray?
“Lake Murray is becoming well-known as a major bass lake,” said Lake Murray Country President and CEO Miriam Atria.
The organization signed up and committed to sponsoring the U.S. bass team back in 2017, Atria said.
“Nothing better than to have international visitors coming here to not only just visit but experience our attractions first-hand,” Atria said.
Bringing the competition to Columbia helps bring recognition to South Carolina’s Capital City/Lake Murray Country region. The tournament previously has been held in such places as Mexico and Italy.
“Our organization would bring that event to the United States, to South Carolina and, most importantly, to Lake Murray,” Atria said. “Lake Murray is the largest outdoor recreational asset in the four-county area of Columbia.”
And the excitement surrounding the event will help determine whether bass fishing becomes an Olympic sport, Atria said.
The weeklong gathering started Sunday. Actual competition starts Thursday, Oct. 20.
Lake Murray Country makes this competition about more than just fishing, Decker said. The event also gives back to the community.
Youth Angling Day, held last Sunday, featured professional anglers teaching kids how to bait a hook and wait for a bite.
“It all starts with kids wanting to fish,” Decker said. “That’s how you keep the sport going.”
Youth Angling Day is a new feature for the world competition. Lake Murray Country wanted to reach out to Columbia youth.
“It’s to promote the love of fishing — to encourage youth to do something that’s productive,” Atria said.
The week includes two days of practice and three days of competing. Fans can attend to cheer on the teams at Dreher Island State Park.
After the third day of competition, the week concludes with an awards dinner gala.