CLAYTON — It’s official, the Bassmaster Elite Series will be returning to Clayton next year.
The B.A.S.S. fishing tournament series announced its 2022 schedule for the series Tuesday, and their lineup included a visit to Clayton from July 14 to 17 next year.
B.A.S.S. has hosted 21 different tournaments on the St. Lawrence River in its lifetime and has brought the Elite series to the river for the past six years, although usually downriver in Waddington.
The group first hosted an Elite competition in Clayton last year, after unexpectedly being unable to host their usual event in Waddington because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At that time, anglers who competed in the tournament expressed an interest in returning to Clayton again, with some saying it was the best bass fishing they had ever experienced.
The tournament returned to Waddington this year, but B.A.S.S. was no longer contractually obligated to work with the village after this year’s tournament.
Jefferson County Board of Legislators Chairman Scott A. Gray, R-Watertown, said the county had worked with the tournament last year to host the event, and reaped the rewards. B.A.S.S. frequently hosts open tournaments in Clayton, and will host one this September, but the Elite series is much more significant.
Mr. Gray said next year’s tournament is expected to be much larger than the 2020 tournament, which was limited because of the pandemic.
The economic impact of last years toned down event was still large, with about $250,000 in estimated direct income for the region.
“We’ll see likely many more people that will come with the tournament and competitors, and then you will see a general public that couldn’t physically attend last year as well,” he said. “It will just be that much better when the public is allowed to see it firsthand. This is welcome news for our tourism economy.”
Mr. Gray said the entire St. Lawrence River region of the county, from Alexandria Bay to Cape Vincent, should see more visitors brought to the region by the tournament.
Clayton Mayor Norma J. Zimmer said the Thousand Islands-Clayton Chamber of Commerce was instrumental in bringing the tournament back to the village. She said the chamber did a lot of work alongside the village to host the Elite series last year, which likely made the tournament organizers more willing to come to Clayton again.
“The Elite Bassmaster is the way to go, and we are very much looking forward to hosting them next year,” she said.