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Fundraiser to benefit food bank
Fishing event is Saturday
Fish Tourney 5 es
Hawkins Milford tries to catch a fish swimming around in a bucket at last year’s American Proteins bass tournament. - photo by File photo
At a glance

The 13th annual American Proteins bass tournament will begin with early registration at 5 a.m. March 27. "Launch" will begin at 6:30 a.m. or safe light at Little Hall Park. Weigh-in will be at 3:30 p.m. Entry fee is $140 per boat. To pre-register, call (770) 887-6148.

With the economy still in a slump, the benefactor of an annual local fundraiser has changed this year.

The American Proteins bass tournament will be held March 27.

In years past the event has supported the March of Dimes, a national organization that works to ensure all babies are born healthy.

But this year’s benefactor will be the Hightower Baptist Food Bank, which is supported by nearly 60 northeast Georgia area churches and distributes more than $7,000 worth of food per month to families in need.

Natalie Gunter, an organizer of the tournament, said leaders this year wanted to shift the focus to a local organization.

“With the need, the economy and how things are going, we thought we’d do something local and help out the county,” she said.

Registration for the fishing tournament, now in its 13th year, will begin as early as 5 a.m. and the “launch” from Little Hall Park will start at 6:30 a.m. or safe light, Gunter said.

As of late last week, some 35 fisherman had signed up. Gunter expects many more throughout the week and day of the contest.

“We usually double whatever number we have [pre-registered] the day of,” she said.

Entry fee is $140 per boat, regardless of whether the fishermen choose to pre-register.

A number of prizes will be awarded.

Among them will be one “big fish” award to whoever reels in the largest catch. Gunter said the big fish prize will be $500.

Other prizes will be given for the heaviest overall catches. Cash prizes will range from $2,000 to $100 for first through 10th place.

As in years past, fisherman’s families can join in the fun after weigh-in, scheduled to begin about 3:30 p.m.

“We got a lot of gift certificates, rod and reel combos — one of those is valued at about $400 — and several other things like jackets, toolboxes and tackle boxes for our raffle,” Gunter said

Raffle tickets are $1 each, with the drawings just after weigh-in.

Hamburgers, hot dogs and other concessions will be for sale, with all food and raffle proceeds also going to the food bank.

Last year, the tournament raised $23,625.

“We’re hoping we’ll be about the same this year,” Gunter said.