COLUMBIANA, Ala. (WIAT) — The Bassmaster Elite Series is in Shelby County for the first time in the event’s history. This elite series event is a top level of professional fishing.

People worldwide work to qualify for events like this Whataburger Bassmaster Elite. B.A.S.S. communications manager Emily Harley said Lay Lake is hosting 104 of the best anglers in the world this week.

Harley said these anglers will battle each other and a tough fishery, ultimately looking to capture a $100,000 first place prize.

She said when looking for a host site they want a good challenge for all the anglers, and the Lay Lake location makes for great fishing.

The field is chosen at random today and will be reversed tomorrow, so Harley said there will be a lot of strategy at play.

The biggest weigh over 4 days wins, but she said the fish don’t weigh as much after spawn season. To win anglers will need to catch largemouth and spotted bass. Harley said weather can also be a challenge.

“As the forecast kind of shifts during the week, we always joke, the guys are sort of part time anglers, part time meteorologists because they really do study the weather, the forecast, what the pressures, systems and the fronts are doing because they know how that impacts fish behavior and what they need to do to get big bites,” said Harley.

Harley said an elite series typically brings in about $1 million dollars of economic impact. 

She said this elite tournament places tons of attention on Shelby County, and that the entire Birmingham area benefits also. 

“So, you get that economic impact. You also just get the long-term visibility. You know, one of the great things we have here in Alabama is gorgeous natural resources. So, you get to showcase those for people all over the country and the world when they tune in to watch the Elite.”

Harley said Lay Lake hosted four Bassmaster Classics and countless other B.A.S.S. tournaments in years past.

The field launched Thursday morning around 6:30 a.m. and weighing will take place around 3:00 p.m. at Beeswax Creek Park. The biggest weigh over four days wins the big prize.

Harley said fans will get to see multiple Alabama natives competing along with several anglers from around the world.

The top 50 will advance to the semifinals Saturday and the top 10 will battle it out for that first-place prize on Sunday. To learn how you can tune into the tournament, you can click here.

Daily weigh-ins can be streamed at 3:00 p.m.