As we inch closer to spring park district officials at Grand Lake St. Marys do their best to make sure it's a busy year on the lake by luring fishing tournaments back to the area.
Chad Dawson's been fishing on Grand Lake St. Marys for years. With the toxic algae problems plaguing the lake over the past few years he noticed the fish weren't biting, but now the lake is back on the right track.
"It actually looks a heck of a lot better than what it has been and the fishing's really good," Dawson said.
It's not just Dawson noticing the change.
"You talk to people who have fished here for 15 years and last fall was the best. Last spring was a little slow but then from the spring into the summer it was very good," Grand Lake St. Marys Park Manager, Brian Miller, said.
Before toxic algae took over about 100 fishing tournaments called Grand Lake home. Since then that number has dropped to 30 to 40. With the algae gone park officials are luring those tournaments back by sending out information and application forms to host a tournament at the lake.
Brining more tournaments to the lake means more money into the local economy.
"We're talking thousands and thousands of dollars for a large tournament. They come in and stay in our hotels and eat in our restaurants and they leave that all in our economy and have a good time when they're here so it is very important," Donna Grube, Executive Director of the Auglaize and Mercer County Convention and Visitor's Bureau, said.
Reeling in these big tournaments isn't just about bringing people back to the lake; it also helps clean it up. Carp release toxins that contribute to the toxic algae. The next Get the Carp out of Here fishing tourney is in May. Last year it anglers caught more than 400 pounds of carp.
"It's an important tournament mostly in the fact that it's part of the mission of the Lake Restoration Commission to get those rough fish out of the lake and it helps clean the lake, get it back into balance," Grube said.
That is something Chad Dawson looks forward to.
"It's a pretty big thing, plus a lot of boating and jet skiing and things like that. It would be good to see this lake back to life again," he said.