MASSENA — Even before more than 250 anglers took off Thursday morning from the Massena Intake, the 2019 Costa Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) Series Northern Division was already drawing praise from participants and officials.
“We’ve heard nothing but great comments,” Massena Town Council member Thomas C. Miller told board members during their meeting on Wednesday.
Wednesday was the mandatory registration for the tournament. It was held at the St. Lawrence Centre mall.
“There were over 350 people at the meeting. We’re looking somewhere around 130 boats with co-anglers. Then you’ve got staff, media, marketing and all that,” Mr. Miller said.
He said mall General Manager Erica Leonard hosted the Wednesday meeting.
“She put on a spread of food from that wall to that wall,” he said. “The people are loving it. They couldn’t say thank you enough. They typically don’t get food at their meetings. They come to the meeting and just take off. So that went over well.”
Prior to the meeting, Mr. Miller said anglers had been out on the river for three days of practice.
“We’re doing our best. We’re getting nothing but great comments,” he said.
The anglers took off from the Massena Intake at 7 a.m. Thursday, and the weigh-ins will be held beginning at 3 p.m. The pros and co-anglers are casting for a top of prize of up to $85,000, including a brand new Ranger Z518L boat with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard in the pro division.
The weigh-in was originally scheduled for the Massena Town Beach, but had to be moved to the intake.
‘We had one adjustment. We had to move the weigh-in from the beach to the intake because of the level of the water,” Mr. Miller said.
He said a local angler took his boat out to the beach last Thursday and tried to come in with it.
“The plan was to beach the boats, weigh in right here and get back in the boat,” meaning less congestion at the intake, he said.
“But the level is so low that anglers would have had to walk up 30 yards to the water. As it was, Steve’s boat got stuck. For the safety of the anglers... we moved it over to the intake. We got it laid out real good, so things are good. There will be some adjustments in the parking because of everything over there,” Mr. Miller said. “I ran everything through the staff at the FLW, from the CEO right down to the tournament director. They’re happy with it. They’re happy with everything we’ve done so far.”
He said the tournament wouldn’t have come together so well without in-kind services from a number of individuals and groups. Among them was Highway Superintendent Frank Diagostino.
“If it wasn’t for this guy right here, we would not be where we are today. He and his crew have helped us tremendously. I can’t thank him enough and he’s still not done yet. We’ve got a lot more to do Thursday and Friday,” he said.
Others who offered in-kind services included the Massena Electric Department; Terry Peets from the Massena Recreation Department, who worked with Mr. Diagostino and his crew; the village of Massena; the village of Waddington, which donated their bandshell for a Friday night concert at the Massena Town Beach; the Massena Volunteer Fire Department; and Massena Rescue Squad.
“The town of Louisville has been wonderful. (Fire Chief) Shawn Thompson is in contact with me every single day,” Mr. Miller said.
The New York Power Authority has also assisted, as has Patrick Curran, who donated generators.
“I asked him, ‘Can we rent them?’ He goes, ‘No, you’re not renting them, you can have them,’” he said.
In addition to the fishing, Friday night features a Fleetwood Mac Mania concert at 6 p.m. at the Massena Town Beach, along with a bonfire provided by the Louisville Fire Department and fireworks. The Rapidz and Italian Affair food trucks will be on hand, and adult beverages will be available.
“Friday is going to be great,” Mr. Miller said.
Saturday is the final day of fishing, and it’s also the day of a free kid’s fishing tournament from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Wilson Hill causeway. The tournament is open to kids ages 5 to 12, with cash prizes of $500, $400, $300, $200 and $100 for catching a tagged fish.
“The kid’s fishing tournament is going like wildfire. We’re up to 200 kids. Keep in mind, this is all donated money,” he said.