Ida Schossow, at left, and John Gothia of the Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce addressed Orange County Commissioners Court on Tuesday afternoon as they requested funding for the Bass Champs 2016 Team Championship Tournament in October. The funds from the hotel and occupancy tax funds will be utilized to promote and offset costs of the event, which expects more than 300 angling teams. Photo by Tommy Mann Jr.

By Tommy Mann Jr. – For The Record

In the span of just a few short years, Orange, Texas, has made a name for itself as a true sports fishing destination.

The latest in a line of high-profile fishing tournaments has set its sights on Orange as the Bass Champs 2016 Team Championship event will take place this fall on the Sabine River. The fishing event will feature approximately 300 teams with 600 anglers competing for more than $200,000, at minimum, in guaranteed cash and prizes, which includes two Skeeter boats.

Ida Schossow, president of the Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce, and John Gothia, a past chairman of the chamber and  one of the three key figures with David Jones and David Sandlin who have been responsible for luring big fishing events to Orange, presented information about the upcoming Bass Champs Championship and requested $30,000 in hotel occupancy tax funds.

These funds will be used to market the event through a variety of media outlets, as well as activities for anglers and for the event itself.

“This is something we have been working on for a while, but there where things we were working on during that process that Bass Champs was waiting on,” Gothia said. “The main thing was the 12-inch rule change on the limit size for fish in the Sabine River, which goes into effect September 1st. That is what really helped us get the deal done with Bass Champs.”

In 2013 and 2015, the Bassmaster Elite Series held bass fishing tournaments on the Sabine River and thousands of people attended each day of the respective four-day events with approximately 100 anglers each time. The Bassmaster Elite Series tournaments had a significant economic impact each year, and this tournament potentially could as well.

The Bass Champs 2016 Team Championship will be held on Saturday, Oct. 8 and Sunday, Oct. 9 on the Sabine River in Orange. Anglers will be allowed to practice on the river system prior to the tournament from Wednesday, Oct. 5, through Friday, Oct. 7, 2016.

According to Schossow, the tournament is expected to have an economic impact of approximately $2 million on Orange and Orange County.

“We should see a large number of attendees at this event,” Schossow explained. “It will not be like Bassmasters, but you never know. There will be more anglers with this event, and many of these anglers will be traveling with family since this is the championship.”

There will not a festival held in conjunction with this tournament as has been done with previous fishing tournaments on the Sabine River, mostly due to the fact that the field of anglers is so much larger and the additional grounds will be utilized for parking of vehicles and trailers.

The approval of the $30,000 in hotel occupancy tax funds from the Orange County Commissioners on Tuesday afternoon gives the green light for the deal to be finalized with Bass Champs.

“They were just waiting on this request to be approved by Commissioners,” Gothia added. “They have anglers ready to start booking their hotel rooms. We expect over 300 teams from four states to be part of this, and many of them have families who will be traveling with them. That’s a big boost to the economy right there.”

Along with the expected economic impact, there will be substantial media coverage of the event, especially on television.

The championship event will be aired at a later date on The World Fishing Network, as well as Fox Sports Southwest, and will feature coverage of the tournament, along with area activities, history of the area, lodging and information on the Sabine River.

Bass Champs, Inc. was founded in 1997 by its president Chad Potts and is the only grass roots tournament organizer to provide national television exposure for its anglers and sponsors.

With more than 30 events held each year, the majority of which are in Texas, Bass Champs has given away over $27,000,000 in cash and prizes, which includes more than 175 bass boats, 90 ATV’s and 35 trucks.

Bass Champs awards more than $2 million in cash and prizes to its participants each year.

Visit www.basschamps.com for more information on this organization, its tournament schedule and the Bass Champs 2016 Team Championship.