Anglers, tournament staff and community leaders are thrilled with their new shaded place on Lewis Smith Lake in Walker County to host fishing tournament weigh-ins.

Many of them gathered May 8 to share their appreciation for the weigh-in pavilion during a dedication ceremony prior to weigh-in at the Basspro.com Bassmaster Open. The pavilion provides shade for fish-holding tanks during tournament weigh-ins, which reduces stress and increases survival rates of the fish.

“It’s particularly important for community events and smaller tournaments to provide better fish care,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin. “They’ll come in the pavilion, bring their fish, keep them in the shade, keep in the water until they weigh them. It provides a great way to take better care of the fish to get them back in the water so they can grow up and we can catch them a little bit bigger each time.”

New weigh-in pavilion dedicated on Smith Lake from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The pavilion, constructed in 2020, was funded through a partnership between B.A.S.S. and Alabama Power, built with the help of volunteers from the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance.

“It took some funds available, used some donated organized labor, and just came up with a great pavilion,” said Casey Shelton, business manager, International

 Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) System Council U-19.

“This has been a great partnership to see come together and will benefit the local community for years to come.”

The new pavilion is the latest in a growing list of amenities offered at Alabama Power’s 65 public recreation sites. It is the second pavilion Alabama Powe

r and B.A.S.S. have worked together to build. In 2014, B.A.S.S., Alabama Power, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR), Shelby County and volunteers from Alabama B.A.S.S. Nation teamed to open a similar weigh-in pavilion at Beeswax Landing on Lay Lake.

“We are happy to be a part of this project and to continue to partner with B.A.S.S. and others to bring these tournaments to the communities we serve,” said Alabama Power Western Division Vice President Mark Crews. “These partnerships help enhance access points to the beautiful natural resources that our state has to offer.”

ADCNR donated engineering expertise to the project, and added a ramp and docks to the nearby boat launch.

“Tournament fishing is extremely important to Alabama,” said ADCNR Commissioner Chris Blankenship. “To have fishing tournaments of this size you’ve got to have plenty of launching ramps and you’ve got to have ample parking. This is a great project where we have put in some nice ramps, have all of the parking and then have the great tournament pavilion for the weigh-in. This is really a first-class place to host tournaments and has a great economic impact to our state.”

State leaders said the pavilion is a boost for the Smith Lake community.

“Tournaments and good access to the lake at Smith Dam are important to the local community and Alabamians looking to enjoy the outdoors or a day on the water,” said state Sen. Greg Reed of Jasper. “I am thrilled that this many organizations came together to reach a common goal that will attract people to come to Walker County.”

“This is truly a diverse partnership that will directly benefit the local community and surrounding area,” added state Rep. Connie Rowe. “Thanks to all the partners and the resources provided to make it happen.”

Community leaders said the pavilion will attract more fishing tournaments, especially among high schools and amateurs, which will benefit nearby cities and communities for years to come.

“Lewis Smith Lake clearly is a piece of what makes Jasper what it is and any enhancement made to Lewis Smith Lake is an enhancement to Jasper,” said Jasper Mayor David O’Mary. “I’m thankful to Alabama Power and B.A.S.S. for their collective efforts in bringing this pavilion here. You hope folks come here, have a good experience, then go back home and tell people about their good experience. The value of that is hard to quantify but without question we benefit from it.”

For up-to-date information about Alabama lakes, download the Smart Lakes app to your smartphone at smartlakes.com. For more information on this or other Alabama Power public recreation sites, visit apcshorelines.com.

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