Young anglers benefit from Bass Pro/Cabelas fishing rod donation

Bass Pro and CATCH Ministry officials (far left) pose during a media photo op held to publicize the donation. (PHOTO: Richard Simms)

For the second year in a row the Chattanooga-area Bass Pro Outpost has donated hundreds of rods and reels, via area anglers. This year, following the purchase of Cabelas by Bass Pro, the Ft. Oglethorpe Cabelas store joined in the effort.

Amy Dodson, Bass Pro Events Manager, said they collected about 150 rods and an equivalent number of reels this year. The number was down somewhat from last year's donation of a combined 390 rods & reels.

The rods and reels were donated by area fishermen during a special promotional campaign. Anyone who donated a "gently-used" fishing rod or reel received a discount on brand new Bass Pro merchandise.

"Customers love it," said Dodson. "Knowing that their rods and reels that they may have cherished for so long are going to help a child get involved in the hobby that they love so much. It just brings out the best in people - so much so that some people bought brand new rods & reels to donate."

The recipients of the local donations this year include CATCH Ministry, and area Boy Scouts.

"We've been involved with CATCH Ministries and FishDayton since we opened and they both just do so much to give back to the community, as do the Boy Scouts of course," said Dodson.

CATCH Ministry (acronym for Christian Anglers Together Can Help) is based in Cleveland and reaches eleven area counties. The organization uses fishing to spread the gospel. Virtually all their events involve fishing - events for special needs children, fishing rodeos, a tournament fishing trail and assisting area high school bass fishing teams.

CATCH Ministry President Kevin Johnson said, "We take these rods and reels and give them a little TLC [tender, loving care], pair a rod with an appropriate reel and bundle them in groups of three. Then we ask kids to write a little essay - why do they like fishing or something about conservation - and then we pass those rods & reels along to the kids that need them. We realize that some folks are more blessed than others so we try to make sure that the kids that really need these rods & reels get them."

Barry Fisher with the area Boy Scout District said they will do the same.

"Our theme this year is going to be 'Hooked on Scouting," said Fisher. "We'll be having fishing derbies and this will be a great asset for new scouts coming in that may not have all the gear that they need."

Bass Pro estimated that nationally the program will bring in 50,000 donated rods & reels. It is part of Bass Pro's "Gone Fishing" program. The next two weekends (June 9-10 and 16-17) youngsters are invited to catch their first fish with free catch-and-release ponds, take home a “First Fish” certificate and beginner’s guides, and participate in free seminars, free crafts and free photo downloads.

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