Small Tenn. city cashes in by disorder in fishermen

On a cold Thursday morning, before sunrise, scarcely 200 drum fishing boats launched from a tiny wharf in Dayton, Tennessee.

While the anglers contest to offshoot the biggest drum in Chickamauga Lake, the city is cashing in. So says Dennis Tumlin, the conduct of the Rhea County Economic Tourism Council.

“Our statistics show us that about $14 million came into city last year,” Tumlin told CBS News’ Dana Jacobson.


In 2015 Gabe Keen broken a Tennessee state record when he held a drum weighing 15 pounds, 3 ounces, in Chickamauga Lake.

That’s $14 million in things like food, lodging, and new taxation revenue. That’s a big understanding for this tiny city of 7,200 in southeastern Tennessee.

Mayor Gary Louallen was lifted in Dayton. It was, he said, “just a tiny country town, had little country stores” when he was flourishing up.

It’s also a city that’s been struggling given the recession.

Dayton is in the heart of Rhea County, one of the some-more vexed areas of Tennessee, formed on statistics that embody misery rate, domicile income and unemployment. But when Mayor Louallen was inaugurated 4 years ago, he had a devise to spin around Dayton’s economy.

A fisherman, Louallen went to the legislature and said, “Guys, if you’ll just trust me and run with me on this, fishing could really make it good for us.”

Turns out Dayton was sitting on a secret: Chickamauga Lake is some-more than 50 miles long, and boasts some of the best drum fishing in the South.


Tourism from anglers brought in $14 million to the Tennessee city of Dayton in just one year. 

In 2014, the city began pity their internal treasure, using it to tilt in big-time fishing competitions.

“We began to consider of this lake as an opportunity,” pronounced Tumlin.

Tumlin was lured back home from his pursuit at Coca-Cola by the eventuality to help his boyhood town.

“We went after tourism,” he said. “Tourism comes in many shapes, forms and fashions. For us, it happens to be fishing. For other communities, it may be something else. It may be horseback riding, but for us it was fishing.”

According to Tumlin, the normal angler spends $1,100 in a week. One new contest brought in 400 anglers. “It’s impactful,” he said. “One eventuality by itself is powerful, but we’ve been averaging 30 events per year for the last 3 years.”

With fishermen, their families and fans coming into Dayton, the internal service attention has been booming.

“Yeah, fishing was apparently awesome,” pronounced Nathaniel Eastwood, the ubiquitous manager of the Sleep Inn, one of two new camp comforts that have non-stop recently.

“Three or 4 years ago, nothing of this things would have been as assertive in its growth,” he told Jacobson. “It’s a major matter for what we’ve been means to accomplish.”

And there are 5 new restaurants as well.

Dayton isn’t the only city in the game. Mary Helen Sprecher is handling editor of Sports Destination Management, a repository dedicated to sports tourism. “You do not need to horde the Olympics to turn a sports destination,” she said.

She points to events like the Fat Tire Bike Race in Cable, Wisconsin; the American Birkebeiner Ski Race in circuitously Hayward, Wis.; and generally the Pickleball Tournament in Naples, Florida as success stories.

One eventuality could have a $1.5-million mercantile impact, Sprecher said.

For all the income that sports can bring in, Tumlin says the tournaments are just a first step towards a incomparable goal.

“We’re chasing attention as tough as we’re chasing tourism,” he said. “If you’re an attention CEO, you’re looking for peculiarity of life. So, when you come here, we wish you to feel energy, and feel a good community. And we trust it will produce good results.”

Just days after Jacobson visited, Tumlin announced Dayton had reeled in a REALLY big fish: A Finnish company, Nokian Tyres, announced a $360 million investment in a new plant in the town, along with the guarantee of 400 new jobs.

For a tiny town, that is a good catch.

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