CHAUTAUQUA Aside from the quality of fishing provided by Chautauqua Lake, one detail about Chautauqua that Major League Fishing participants can't say enough about is its beauty.
"Isn't that just magnificent," said Don Rucks, Jack Link's Major League Fishing commissioner, regarding the sunrise over Chautauqua. "Every day God gives you just a little glance of heaven to let you know that it's there, but never a long enough look that you'll start to take it for granted."
Every angler participating in round four of Jack Link's Major League Fishing Summit Cup, as well as every production staff and crew member was up before the sun on Thursday to make sure everything was perfect for another day of competitive fishing.
Photo by Remington Whitcomb
Anglers get ready to head out early Thursday morning. The Championship Round takes place Saturday.
And while anglers were preparing their boats, cameramen and women were setting their equipment and producers were setting their stage, the one topic everyone was discussing was the beauty that is Chautauqua.
"(Wednesday) morning there was a fog rolling over the lake as we were setting up," said Randy Coleman, communications director for Jack Link's Major League Fishing. "Just as the boats were leaving the docks to start the competition for the day, the sun had just crept maybe a few inches over the horizon. I tell you what, it was the kind of shot that every photographer dreams of. It was like something out of a movie."
Though the ethereal glow of the sun hitting the fog as it rose off the lake was stunning, even after the sun was at full zenith, those associated with Major League Fishing still found plenty of other aspects of Chautauqua to compliment.
"The institution itself is absolutely stunning," said Sheli Sanders, television personality and host for Jack Link's Major League Fishing. "I've spent some time at (the Athenaeum Hotel) and I felt like I was on Mackinac Island. Have you ever seen that movie 'Somewhere in Time?' It's reminiscent of that. Everyone here has treated us very well and everyone has been very helpful."
"Just talking to some of the anglers, they've really appreciated staying here at Chautauqua," said Todd Tranum, CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce. "They appreciate the hospitality that the county has offered them, they're thankful for the amenities and the level of service they've received, and they're really just enjoying the great fishery here in Chautauqua County. Many of them, including some of the production crew, want to come back again, which is a great sign. We really love having them here, too. It's good for our economy and certainly this is going to have some ongoing impact because of the way it's going to be televised. These anglers are going to share their experiences with their peers and hopefully we'll see even more activity here in the future."
Because of the fast-paced nature of the event Jack Link's Major League Fishing is hosting, many of the anglers and crew have not truly had the opportunity to explore Chautauqua County outside of the institution. Those who have are singing the praises of the surrounding land, and the anglers say the view of the county they are getting from their boats while fishing is sublime.
"If I had to sum up this area using only one word, I would say it's relaxing," said Gary Klein, professional angler. "Just the setting up here is gorgeous and the people treat us so well. It's fun to be up here. The hotels, the restaurants and the food is all fantastic. Everyone around here is so curious about what's going on it. The (local residents) fall in love with the boats and they see the cameras and the helicopter flying around. It's all just great. And even past the beauty, I'd like to say that Manny (Gutierrez) from Lucas Oil fished with me yesterday and he caught the biggest small-mouth bass he's ever caught."
"I would add to that by saying the aesthetics of this place is just so great," said Timmy Horton, professional angler. "We go to a lot of places where there's a lot of hustle and bustle and everything is so fast paced, and I can see why learning is so important here. You get in a demeanor of everything slowed-down and it makes everything just so great here. And (regarding the fish), I had some folks with Jack Link's Beef Jerky out (Wednesday) and we caught a six pound small-mouth. They don't get a lot bigger than that."