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Reeling them in

POSTED: September 12, 2011 6:20 p.m.
Photo by Pat Donahue/

Effingham County citizens take a walk down to the new floating dock at Tuckasee King Landing on Monday. The improvements to the landing were done as part of the Go Fish Georgia campaign.

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With the newly-renovated Tuckasee King landing now open, local and state officials are hoping to reel in more boaters and anglers.

Effingham County officials, state lawmakers and Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Mark Williams cut the ribbon on the redone boat ramp and landing, just off the Savannah River in northern Effingham County.

“This is just a great day,” said Williams. “The Go Fish initiative was started to increase fishing in Georgia and give them more access through state and local partnerships. We’re just thrilled to death. It’s a big day for south Georgia fishermen.”

The boat ramp and landing includes a floating dock and a 50-space truck and boat trailer parking site, in addition to a pavilion with a new playground and new restrooms. The park will be available 24 hours a day.

The improvements were made under the state’s Go Fish Georgia initiative and were completed by Alpha Construction and Colbert Construction.

Effingham County Recreation and Parks Director Clarence Morgan recalled when he was first approached about making the improvements to Tuckasee King as part of the Go Fish program.“I said, ‘we can find the money if we can get the state to help us out,’” he said. “It’s amazing what has happened since then.”

State Rep. Jon Burns, chairman of the House Game, Fish and Parks Committee, said that when he was younger, they would bypass Tuckasee King to go to Stokes Bluff to get to the Savannah River.

“We were limited for many years in our access to the Savannah River,” he said. “But thanks to Sen. (Jack) Hill, Rep. (Ann) Purcell, the county and the state, we improved this landing, which was a dramatic increase in the usability of this landing. It was very useful for many years.”

The first phase of improvements came back in 1998, Morgan said, and the county was placed on the Go Fish list in 2008. The Tuckasee King ramp is one of 17 being built around the state as part of the initiative, started under former Gov. Sonny Perdue.

“We can’t wait for you to put this ramp to use,” Williams said. “The benefits it will provide to anglers and circling back to the conservation of this resource are tremendous, and we are thrilled with its completion.”

Not only is fishing a family activity, it’s also big business, Williams pointed out. There are more than 1.1 million anglers in Georgia, according to DNR statistics, and they spend more than $1 billion a year, with an economic impact of in excess of $2 billion. Sport fishing creates 10,649 jobs, leading to $15 million a year in income tax to the state.

“There is great potential to grow this industry in Georgia,” Williams said. “Fishing is not only a recreational pastime, it should be looked at as a tourism draw for the state, for residents and non-residents alike.”

Under Go Fish Georgia, initiative seeks to establish Georgia as a fishing destination by improving the quality of fishing in Georgia waters, improving access to bodies of water for fishing and increasing participation in Georgia’s fishing resources.

Purcell said she and Sen. Hill would get calls every week from fishermen with broken axles after trying to put their boats in the water at Tuckasee King landing.

“Jack and I got really involved when the clubs came to us and said, ‘we want to have our fishing tournaments here but we don’t have a place to put our boats in,’” she said. “It’s been a long time coming. This is an extremely happy day for Effingham County and for our fishing groups.”

Hill praised the collaboration between the state and local government and lauded the local government for its vision in taking part in Go Fish.

“The whole facility has been so much easier because of what you had here and because of the cooperation,” he said. “In government, you’re always trying to promote the public good and doing the best you can to move the entire community forward. These things, even when they’re done not in the best of times, are good investments for the future.”

Hill added the state is going to do more with its natural resources.

“We’re going to make this a state worthy of people coming here and staying here,” he said.

Morgan also praised the efforts of the state lawmakers and county project manager Adam Kobek for pushing the landing improvements.

“Adam has a lot to do with it,” he said. “He took it by the horns and went with it.”

Next, Morgan added, is making improvements at Abercorn Landing.

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