Cookeville and Center Hill Lake will play host to the inaugural Pro-Am Kayak Bass Championship later this year.
Zach Ledbetter is the Vice President of Vistor Development for the Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau. He said landing the event will help increase tourism for the region.
“It’s a huge win for our community,” Ledbetter said. “You’re bringing in international visitors from all of these different countries. More than 40 Pan-American countries will be invited, so there’s no telling how many countries will truly be represented here during the four-day championship event. What’s great is this is an invitation-only event that you cannot buy your way into this kayak bass tournament.”
Ledbetter said the Visitors’ Bureau was approached by Jackson Kayak CEO and former kayaking champion Eric Jackson about possibly hosting the event.
“He said USA Bass and the Pan-American Sport Fishing Federation are looking to put this championship together,” Ledbetter said. “This is the first of its kind kayak bass championship, and out of all of the countries and locations that they possibly could have hosted, we put in a bid and were successful in that.”
The Visitors’ Bureau contacted the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to coordinate the event. Ledbetter said the event shouldn’t be a problem despite recent projects at the Center Hill Dam.
“That was one of the reasons we wanted to reach out to the Corps of Engineers and make sure that we have their blessing,” Ledbetter said. “When you start thinking about bringing over 50 people a day for a tournament such as this, obviously being a kayak tournament, you don’t have motorized boats like you would with probably a regular fishing tournament as you would probably see on one of the nearby Corps of Engineers’ lakes.”
The event will kick off Tuesday, May 28th with an Olympic-style opening ceremony and conclude that Friday, May 31st.