Local businesses and hotel owners have been able to tell there are visitors in town.
Many hotels managers have reported being booked up this week or having very few rooms available. It’s hard not to miss bright colored sport utility vehicles and trucks parked at restaurants or moving around Conway either.
The visitors are professional and amateur anglers down for the Bass Pro Shops Crappie Masters Ultimate Challenge One-Pole event on Lake Conway. Over 170 anglers from 15 different states and their families are here for the two-day tournament, which starts this morning.
"We had a cold front that came through here about five or six days ago that kind of shut these fish down. However, there was a guy that caught one that was over three pounds, so it’s some big fish in there," Paul Alpers said, the president of the Bass Pro Shops Crappie Masters. "The hospitality in Conway has been great. You couldn’t ask for any better hospitality. The A&P Commission and the Chamber of Commerce have really bent over backwards for us. The Log Cabin Democrat has also done a great job with its articles and its coverage on the event."
All anglers are scheduled to hit the lake at 7 am. on Friday, and the quitting time for both days of fishing is set at 3:30 pm. Each angler can weigh up to seven live fish each day. The top three teams will also give the public some tips and tricks at the final weigh-in on Saturday, and a polygraph test will be administered for the three biggest fish caught that day.
There was a reception for anglers’ registration, held at the Hilton Inn on Thursday. A mandatory seminar for all participants followed the reception. Representatives from the Game and Fish Commission, City of Conway, Chamber A&P and Crappie Masters each had a hand in the organization of the seminar, and greeting the anglers for the event. During the seminar, tournament officials talked about the rules and regulations of the event, and gave additional information about the lake and fish.
"I’m proud to say that Conway stepped up to the plate and brought us here when other places turned us down," Alpers said. "We’re looking to come back and we’ve been talking about several different things. We have a two-day tournament where you can use live bait, so we may return next year for an Arkansas State Championship."