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FLW returning to Lake Toho

Posted on Tuesday, July 17, 2018 at 4:44 pm

Pro anglers tour comes to Kissimmee Feb. 7-10, 2019

By Ken Jackson
Staff Writer

Professional tournament fishing circuit Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) announced last week that Lake Tohopekaliga and Osceola County will play host to one of it’s seven regular-season tournament spots on the 2019 schedule.

Lake Toho, known throughout the angling circles as one of the top bass fishing locales in North America, will welcome the FLW’s most successful fisherman Feb. 7-10, 2019. The event, like the other seven on the schedule, will be streamed on FLW Live and broadcast on NBC Sports Network and the World Fishing Network.

“We’ve had a great history on Lake Toho and always draw fantastic crowds to our Outdoor Expos and weigh-ins,” said Kathy Fennel, president of FLW operations. “We are extremely excited to showcase some of the giant largemouth that Lake Toho is known for during our 2019 season.”

The 2019 FLW Tour season and the Kissimmee stop was announced at a live press event held at the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST) on July 12 at the Orange County Convention Center. The FLW Tour has visited previously Lake Toho four times over the last 23 years.

In the past, the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes hosted the BASS Eastern Open in January of this year, an event that attracted around 200 boats, and the 2006 BASSMaster Classic, the crown jewel event of that series.

The event will be hosted by Experience Kissimmee and the Kissimmee Sports Commission, its sports event marketing arm. Sports Commission Executive Director John Poole said the county leaned on its prior relationship with FLW and previous pro fishing tours to attract the event.

“We have this great new lakefront development to showcase and attract big events like this,” he said. “This will provide great exposure for the destination with it being on television here and in the U.K., which is a key market for us.”

Poole said pinning down a figure for economic impact is difficult to peg, and the sports commission is keeping expectations to itself, but he did mention that the Eastern Open a number of years ago resulted in “a couple thousand” room nights for the area.

“They’ll be spending on gas, tolls and in our restaurants. It will be a significant impact on the local community,” he said. “This is a pro angling city, and the big brands coming here almost annually for marquis events put us on the map, along with recreational fishermen who are drawn here to fish the same lakes the pros they follow fish.”

The FLW’s Central Florida tour stop this year was the Harris Chain of the Lakes in Lake County. The 2019 schedule kicks off at Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Brookeland, Tx., and after coming to Kissimmee goes to Lake Seminole (Bainbridge, Ga.), Grand Lake (Grove, Okla.), Cherokee Lane (Jefferson City, Tenn.), Lake Chickamauga (Dayton, Tenn.) and Lake Champlain (Plattburgh, N.Y.).