Mad passion for bass fishing just waiting to be tapped

It’s not an outdoors shop. It’s not a boat show. It is a fishing show.
And the people of Shreveport, La. went out of their way to welcome more than 100,000 out-of-towners to the 2009 Bassmasters Classic.
On Sunday evening, as Doug Cain and I were winding down, having dismantled and packed up the Rainy Lake-Fort Frances booth, we were sitting in a restaurant and enjoying our first real supper in four days.
Our server was a lady named Horia, who had immigrated from France to Louisiana 11 years ago.
Spotting our Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship shirts, she immediately broke into French (thinking we might be French Canadian) and offering us up our menus. She had been trained as a chef in France, but was working as a server in the restaurant—a place that both Doug and I felt really served up her talents.
After a little confusion, with me trying to remember the little French that I had and Doug looking bewildered at me, the three of us became friends. Another waiter came by and, hearing her speak French and me listening and replying with simple responses, asked, “Do you know what she’s saying?”
I think he was amazed when he learned I did understand. I, too, was amazed that I could still understand a good deal.
Horia was interested in our families and wanted to tell us about hers. She has a son and a daughter, aged six and eight, and comes from a family of eight in France. She has been in the U.S. for 11 years and takes her children and husband back to France annually to connect with her brothers and sisters.
She wanted to know about our children, our town, and our country—and we found ourselves completely taken with her. By the end of supper, both Doug and I felt like we had known Horia for a lifetime. She had a thousand questions about Canada and our culture.
She and many of the other servers in the hotel’s restaurants where we ate knew the value of the tournament to their community. They went out of the their way to make friends with us.
It was that kind of hospitality that we found throughout the four days we spent in Shreveport. The politeness, the kindness, and gentleness was genuine and the interest in Rainy Lake, Fort Frances, and Rainy River District was surprising.
Shreveport might not be the bass capital of the U.S., but the passion for bass fishing can’t be stronger anywhere else. And the twin cities of Shreveport and Bossier hospitality is second-to-none.
Three major tournaments will be held on the Red River at Shreveport this year, with the Bassmasters Classic being the biggest. Their economic development committee had expected $23 million would be generated into the economy of the community if 80,000 people attended the expo or the weigh-ins.
That would have matched the attendance in New Orleans several years ago.
Instead, more than 100,000 attended the expo alone. And they came from every state in the union. In addition, we met in our booth writers from South Africa, France, Germany, Italy, and Australia who came to witness the biggest bass tournament in the world.
We discovered from the 400 people who attended our booth that they were amazed at the size of the bass found on Rainy Lake, and that there is a real passion from this area of the U.S. to enjoy world-class smallmouth bass fishing.
It is a product that we can deliver, and many will drive or fly more than 1,500 miles to enjoy such a fishery.

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