The big business of Arkansas fishing

(KATV) - The multi-billion dollar fishing industry that starts in Arkansas impacts the world. Whether you're sitting along the banks of a pond, or behind the wheel of a $70,000 boat, you're part of the multi-billion dollar fishing industry in the Natural State. At a Bassmasters event in Russellville, bass anglers from across the county came to Lake Dardanelle for the biggest catch. At the end of the day, anglers weigh in their bass for chance at $100,000. Outdoor TV sports personality and Arkansas native Tommy Sanders reminds those in attendance at Lake Dardanelle about "The Fishin' Hole", a popular feel-good fishing show featuring another Arkansas native, Jerry McKinnis. The show started in Little Rock and traveled around the world, showing the most popular fishing spots, trends, and traditions for anglers. "For bass fishers, there are a lot of Holy Grail type places in Arkansas," said Sanders."Like White River, Beaver Lake, Bull Shoals, Dardanelle, and all of the Arkansas River down into southeast Arkansas." It's been easy for the sport to grow for Arkansans with the development of two newer outdoor superstores in the state. Just south of Little Rock along Interstate 30, Bass Pro Shops experiences a busy parking lot most days. The store hasn't even been open for a full year. The same goes for the Cabela's in Rogers that opened its doors in 2012. The two outdoor sports staples are only partially responsible for the astronomical number of money spent on fishing every year. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission estimates that of the $1.8 billion spent in the state on outdoor activities, $496 million is spent on fishing every year. $340 million is spent on food, lodging and transportation, $142 million is spent on equipment, and $14 million is spent on membership dues, licenses and magazines. The Arkansas Economic Development Commission says the growing industry is worth a billion dollars in just manufacturing alone, and Arkansas fishing products could soon be seen overseas. "In the Chinese market, where fishing is finally now in with the emergence of a middle class is moving from a substance activity into a recreation and sporting activity," said Grant Tennille of the AEDC. To most, fishing is just a recreational activity, but to some, it's a lifestyle. The Natural State is home to at least six boat manufacturing companies, over 150 bass and tackle manufacturers, and the largest minnow farm in the world is in Lonoke. "We've actually got people coming from Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi to come fish in our harbor," said John Ashcraft of the Tackle Box Bait Shop in Pine Bluff. Arkansas Game & Fish says that about 97,000 visitors come to Arkansas just to fish. Those out-of-state anglers are responsible for over $80 million dollars in fishing-related activities. Money aside, if you ask any professional angler, they'll likely say Arkansas is one of the best places to cast a line. Click here for an updated fishing report.