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Go Fish: Donation stocks youth pond

LaGRANGE – Local youth won’t have to wait long for the fish to bite this summer thanks to a donation from the Troup County Sheriff’s Office.

On Monday, representatives from the Troup County Sheriff’s Office visited Camp Pioneer near the Georgia Sheriffs’ Youth Home at Pineland to observe the delivery of approximately 8,000 bream fish to the pond where the boys from the home and campers fish. The sheriff’s office purchased the fish to restock the pond thanks to generous donations at a recent fundraiser.

“This is what we are doing with the money that we raised at the car show,” Sheriff James Woodruff said.

Woodruff has expressed interest in reviving the annual fishing tournament at the Camp Pioneer pond with local youth later this year, but in the meantime hundreds of children from summer camps and Pineland will get to enjoy fishing in the pond.

“I bend the barbs in on the hooks that way the fish come on easy, come off easy because we are just putting them right back in,” said Dewey Lee who works at Camp Pioneer. “We want the next camper to catch one too. Some of these kids have never fished before in their lives, so just catching anything is a great accomplishment.”

That sense of accomplishment has been felt by thousands of campers over the years.

“We’re in our peak summer camp season, and we’ll have somewhere between 1,000 and 1,200 kids come in between now and the first of August,” Division Director Shayne Goddard said.

According to Goddard, summer camps have taken place at the camp for about 22 years with over 20,000 campers coming through the camp since it opened, and the camp staff is proud of the lives they’ve touched in that time.

“You’ve got those lives, then you’ve got their families’ lives, but the key with our camps is we target kids going into middle school, so we are hoping that they are affecting a number of kids in their own schools,” Goddard said. “There is no telling how many lives we’ve touched through this.”

The sheriff’s department expressed hopes that those 8,000 bream will affect many lives as well.

The pond already had bass and carp in it as well as some catfish prior to the donation from the sheriff’s department, but donations to fully restock the catfish would be greatly appreciated since they are easy for campers to catch, providing a fun first-time fishing experience.

To learn more about Georgia Sheriff’s Pineland or Camp Pioneer or to donate visit https://www.georgiasheriffsyouth.org/locations/pineland-camp-pioneer or call 706-845-9771.