MASSENA — Outside fishing tournaments scheduled for the remainder of the year in Massena have come to an abrupt end, courtesy of COVID-19.
The Massena Town Council announced Thursday afternoon that all outside tournaments were canceled “out of an abundance of caution for the citizens of Massena and the north country.”
The town’s annual Big Bass Blowout, the seventh and final tournament of the year, remains up in the air. It’s scheduled for the first weekend in October and draws local anglers vying for cash prizes over the two-day event. The decision on that event will be made later in the summer, as the town council evaluates the status of the pandemic.
According to a news release from the town, the decision to cancel the tournaments was made after considering the risks that could be placed on the local areas in and around Massena since anglers would be traveling into the community and staying at least one night for the events.
Town officials had announced in June that, in consultation with Fishing League Worldwide (FLW), they were canceling two tournaments that were scheduled for the Massena Intake, also because of COVID-19 restrictions.
The FLW Fishing Toyota Series 2020 tournament-St. Lawrence River was scheduled for July 9 to 13, and the 2020 FLW Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Championship was scheduled for Aug. 24 through 29.
The 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit regular season schedule had been shortened from seven events to six this year. After completing three events in the original 2020 schedule, FLW suspended the Pro Circuit on March 22 in an abundance of caution surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
Massena was one of four stops for the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit this summer. The others are Dayton, Tenn. from June 23 to 26; La Crosse, Wis. from July 29 to Aug. 1; and Trenton, Mich. from Aug. 11 to 14.
FLW had also canceled single-day fishing mini-camps that were scheduled to be held in conjunction with the 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro circuit events because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
They said that a three-day summer camp, traditionally held at Murray State University in Murray, Ky., had been shifted to three single-day mini-camps in response to the coronavirus pandemic and to allow more anglers, coaches and boat captains an opportunity to attend.
With continuing concerns about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the mini-camps were canceled for the year, including one that was scheduled for Aug. 25 at the Massena Intake.
Other non-FLW tournaments that were scheduled in Massena this year included the Bass Nation Tour, Cashion Rods Tour, New England Team Tour Qualifier, Big Bass Blowout and Phoenix Bass Fishing League.
In announcing the cancellation of the remainder of the tournaments, Supervisor Steven D. O’Shaughnessy said in the news release that they had to consider the public safety impact.
“Our expectations were to host tournaments during 2020 that would bring economic advantage to Massena and draw visitors to our area. It is extremely difficult to count on economic impact when we also need to insure that we are not burdening our community with an increased health risk in the North Country. Decisions we make here in Massena can have a significant public safety impact on other communities as well,” he said.
“While we are not experiencing the same spikes in case numbers as we are seeing at the national level, we wish to err on the side of caution and insure that we are not creating opportunities for more cases to occur locally. We want to see these events come to Massena in a big way and we plan for a full return of public participation in 2021,” Mr. O’Shaughnessy said.
Tournament Director Donald Meissner said it was a difficult decision for him and the town council members.
“The town has worked tirelessly to build interest in the community and the fishing resources which we have. We never anticipated that we would be halting our efforts to bring anglers to Massena, but this pandemic is creating so much difficulty with health related concerns that we felt it would be unwise to embark on generating activities that might place our community at greater risk,” he said in the release.
“We fully expect and anticipate the return of these tournaments to Massena in 2021 and in the future,” he added.