MASSENA, N.Y. (WWNY) - They bring a huge splash to the St. Lawrence River every summer, reeling in hundreds of anglers from across the country.
But this year two big fishing tournaments in Massena will won’t go on.
“It was a very difficult decision,” Massena town supervisor Steve O’Shaughnessy said. “We were trying to work around all the issues with the COVID problem and people traveling and social distancing, and it just became insurmountable.”
O’Shaugnessy announced Tuesday the town won’t be holding Fishing League Worldwide’s Toyota Series Tournament in July or its Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Championship in August.
“It’s sort of a culmination of four years of work for the town of Massena to use the tremendous fishery that exists in the St. Lawrence River to stimulate the economy of the St. Lawrence Valley,” Massena fishing director Don Meissner said.
Meissner said it’s a heartbreaking loss for the economy.
“The FLW has broken it down that for every one of their major tournaments that come to a village or town, the average economic impact is over a million-and-a-half dollars,” Meissner said, “and that’s only in the short term.”
The long term, he said, is even more rewarding. “What these tournaments do is they give exposure and they give a presence to the towns nationally,” Meissner said. “It wouldn’t exist. The town of Massena becomes on the lips of people all over the country.”
O’Shaughnessy says with the spike in positive COVID-19 cases in many states across the country, the cancellation was necessary.
“A lot of the contestants that do this professionally are coming from the states that are peaking,” he said. “They’re on a regular tour and go to one state to another. It just became too much for us to deal with.”
O’Shaughnessy says don’t put your fishing poles down just yet.
“We have received assurances from the FLW people that they’ll be back, bigger and better for us next year,” he said.
And there will still be plenty of fish in the river to catch.