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Take a Soldier Fishing tourney to wet a line
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Area bass fishermen will have a great opportunity this Saturday as the local charity, Bass Anglers Plus, along with Savannah River Bass Anglers present Take a Soldier Fishing or Bass Brawl 2009.

The tournament, which will get started about 4 a.m. at the Millstone Landing in Hardeeville, S.C., will put 35 area soldiers into bass fishing boats, enabling them to enjoy a day of fishing and camaraderie prior to their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan. The number of soldiers is limited to 35 this year but hopes are to get that number up to 100 in 2010.

“Everything’s based on the anglers showing up themselves,” said tournament organizer Bubba Stephens. “If we don’t get the boats to come out, then we’re not going to leave a soldier standing on the hill.”

But that doesn’t look like it will be a problem this year as 40 boats were already signed up as of Friday.

Entry fees are $65 per boat, with $5 per boat going to the “Big Fish” prize money and the rest split half and half between the prize pot and the Family Readiness Group Informal Fund from Hunter Army Airfield. The fund is set up to assist families of deployed soldiers who have unexpected needs arise.

“Why not do something for the people that allow us to have our freedom,” Stephens said, “and allow us to be able to fish — that’s basically the soldiers.”

The boat captains who bear all the fishing expenses, will fish for the prize money while the soldiers will compete for prizes and certificates

“We feel this year will be extremely successful, a very professional operation,” Stephens said. “The guys on the committee have done an outstanding job.”

Fishermen from Florida, South Carolina, Augusta and the surrounding area already have signed up.

FLW Outdoors, a professional fishing group, is also participating in this year’s tournament, providing prizes and supplies for the fishermen. Coca Cola is partnering with the tournament. Organizers say they are making it possible to give each soldier a rod and reel plus T-shirts for each soldier and each angler as well as the volunteers.

The blast off and the fish weigh-in will be broadcast live over the Internet. Fishing starts about 4 a.m. and the weigh-in will take place about 6 or 6:30 in the evening at the Millstone Landing in Hardeeville.

For more information and directions, e-mail

Fishermen can also call Stephens at 667-4842 or Mark Duggar at (912) 313-5770. Boat entries can be made right up to Saturday morning.