By Al Dozier

Lake Murray bass fishing is often in the local spotlight during fishing tournaments throughout the year but it will have a national audience as a Major League Fishing competition appears on TV’s Outdoor Channel next year.

Representatives of the national Major League Fishing organization, Capital City/Lake Murray Country Regional Tourism and the leader of the state’s Parks and Recreation Commission outlined the event at a press conference Friday morning at the Lake Murray Dam.

Miriam Atria, president and CEO of Capital City/Lake Murray Country Regional Tourism, said the broadcast will have an impact on economic development as it spreads the word about the “Jewel of South Carolina”.

“Lake Murray Country is proud to host this competition on our lake and welcome the competitors and national exposure to our tourism region through the 36 hours of the televised shows on the Outdoor Channel.”

It’s the first time the Major League Fishing Cup series have been filmed in South Carolina. It will feature 24 of the nation’s top anglers in the Bass Pro Shop Summit Select.

The 24 anglers are already competing and will be in front of cameras in a competition that runs from June 19 to June 24. But the event will not begin airing the two-hour episodes on TV until March, 2018 on the Outdoor Channel.

Major League Fishing is filmed “in the dark,” meaning fans are encouraged to not follow the competitors, and results are not disclosed until the show airs.

Dwayne Parish, director of the S.C. Parks and Recreation Commission, said the event reflects the love and enthusiasm South Carolina has for fishing.

“Fishing is a big deal in South Carolina,” he said.

Major League Fishing anglers competing include: Casey Ashley, Scott Ashmore, Zack Birge, Gary Clause, Ott Defoe, Kurt Dove, Todd Faircloth, Randy Howell, Chis Lane, Russ Lane, Dave LeFebre, Pete Ponds, Brandon Palanluk, Keith Poche, Marty Robinson, Mark Rose, Fred Roumbanis, Kevin Short, Fletcher Shryock, Westley Strader, Scott Suggs, James Watson and newcomers Michael Neal and Cody Meyer. Ashley and Robinson are from South Carolina.

“It’s great getting to fish in my home state,” Robinson said. “Columbia is centrally located, providing easy access to great fishing on many diverse bodies of water.”

Several local elected officials attended the press conference, including Rep. Nathan Ballentine, R-Richland, and Rep. Chip Huggins, R-Lexington.