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Exchange Club fishing derby off for 2017
fishing derby
The Exchange Club's annual youth fishing derby has been cancelled for this year due to construction at the DNR fish hatchery. - photo by File photo

The Exchange Club’s annual youth fishing derby, originally scheduled for June 3, has been called off due to major renovation work going on at the Richmond Hill Fish Hatchery.

Held the first Saturday in June, the event has drawn more than 5,000 youths since its inception in 1991. It drew about 500 people in 2016, including more than 250 kids.

The Exchange Club has not been able to find a suitable alternative for the event that can handle such a crowd, said Lynn Bennett, fishing derby chairman. Bennett added that next year’s derby is scheduled for June 2, 2018.

“The guys at the fish hatchery are looking forward to hosting our derby next year just as much as we are,” Bennett said. “We are planning to make it the best one ever.”

A new hatchery and administrative offices are being built at the site.

The Richmond Hill Fish Hatchery, operated by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, is an 87-acre facility that includes 38 fish production and rearing ponds and three fishing event ponds. The land was donated to the state of Georgia by Henry Ford and construction began in 1933 performed by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

The hatchery currently raises eight different types of fish, including striped bass and hybrid striped bass. More than 600 million fry have been hatched there. Bluegill, sunfish, largemouth bass and catfish are also raised at the hatchery for stocking privately owned ponds.

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