After a summer filled with a lot of talk about what is wrong with Chautauqua Lake, what fun it has been the past few days to recount praise from professional bass fisherman and hundreds of others who were here last week for made-for-TV Major League Fishing competition.
The fishermen loved our lake, both for its lively fishing as well as the beauty or the surrounding countryside. The weeds that plague recreational boaters and swimmers are a boon to the fishery, they told us, most especially when kept in check by mechanical harvesting in selected areas.
The Jack Link's Major League Fishing competition is a chance for Chautauqua Lake to be discovered as a world-class sport fishery by everyone who tunes into the Outdoor Channel over a five-week period starting New Year's Day and then to NBC in February for the championship round, which was filmed yesterday.
We cannot emphasize adequately the enormity of our region's good fortune in falling into this out-of-the-ballpark chance to have the world see our lake at its best.
And the best, as we understand it, is exactly the sort of fishing these top professional bass anglers experienced during last week's competition. Chautauqua Lake offered up monster-size small mouth bass and everyone who watches the reality TV-style competition will see that.
By the way, the strict rules of Major League Fishing require that each fish caught be handled quickly and with care and then eased back into the lake to live another day.
In the months leading up to this designed-for-TV tournament, everything was hush-hush - which was all part of ensuring that, first, the 24 top professional bass anglers did not know ahead of time what waters they would be fishing and, second, that no one knows the outcome until the final championship round is aired on NBC in February.
Still, we knew enough about the detailed planning that was happening in the months leading up to the tournament to offer a hearty hip-hip-hooray to everyone who helped pull off this major event and to keep it, relatively speaking, a secret. Hundreds of people - TV crews, fishermen, tournament officials, sponsors and vendors - who arrived in the county last weekend for the tournament have centered their activities at Chautauqua Institution, where the staff turned on a dime to close out the Institution's season and open up for Major League Fishing.
It is thanks to their commitment that the Outdoor Channel and NBC audiences will have a chance to spend time in the little bit of heaven we call home.