“It’s the largest bass tournament that has been held in over 10 years in the Lake Martin area,” Davis said. “We had 124 participants, 26 of those were parent and child teams. We had 15 high school bass teams and we had five collegiate teams.”
Davis estimated the majority of the participants were local, although several participants came from out-of-state. One high school team traveled from Georgia. Fish team members from Fayetteville and Coosa Valley Academy were some of the high school locals on hand. Chelsea won the high school division competition, while University of Montevallo won for the collegiate division.
Davis thought the turnout was all the more impressive due to recent drops in attendance attributed to sluggish economic times.
“To give you some kind of indication, most of these guys around here that are having these bass tournaments, they’re not drawing the participation because times are kind of tough,” Davis said. “You go fill up a boat, it’ll cost you $200 and you pay a high entry fee and you fill your truck up, next thing you know you’re out $400-500. The participation has fallen off. Most bass tournaments around here, unless they’re big Bassmaster stuff, they’ve fallen off to the 30s. For this one to do 124, that’s really huge.”
Having been successful in business for three decades now, Davis has figured out ways to help others. Participants in the tournament had to fish with products exclusively from Davis Bait Company. There were no steep entry fees required for the tournament.
“I’ve been in business for 30 years and just decided I would do something to kind of give back,” he said. “It was a no entry fee tournament. Everybody had such a good time, especially the kids. I think we had enough draw prizes for everybody there. A lot of people left and didn’t get them. I think we had $7000 worth of draw prizes. The winner of the tournament won $2600. The big fish was $900. It took 9.74 pounds to get into the top 15 places. That was the last place that we paid.”
Davis helps others in a much larger, more regular way through Outdoor Friends Forever, a nonprofit organization of which he is one of three charter members. Outdoor Friends Forever helps give kids with special needs an opportunity to enjoy outdoor activities in tandem with skilled outdoorsmen. Children with special needs are afforded a chance to go hunting or fishing, something they might not otherwise get to experience.
Outdoor Friends Forever began as a way to relieve the financial difficulties of families with special needs children.
Davis believes the broad location of central Alabama is perfectly suited for the mission of Outdoor Friends Forever.
“Where we’re located here, this is like God’s country because within an hour you can be on 10 major lakes to fish here,” he said
“Hunting is the same way. It’s just unreal how much property you can hunt on in hunting clubs and even public property that you can hunt on. This is my 30th year of business. I try to get all these youngsters involved in it because if you’ll keep a kid involved in the outdoors—if you keep them hunting and fishing—you don’t have to hunt for them later.”