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Group hopes to hook minority youth
50 anglers to participate in fishing tournament; 1st prize will be $1,500
0224 FISH
Maliek Carrington, center, co-founder of Fishing4Reel Outdoors meets with students at a North Carolina school to talk about fishing.

Fishing4Reel Outdoors

Meet and greet

When: 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County, 1 Positive Place, Gainesville

Tailgate party

When: 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday

Where: Laurel Park, 3100 Old Cleveland Highway, Gainesville

As a youth, a group of older men took Maliek Carrington under its wings and taught him how to fish.

He credits their actions with saving his life and now he wants to pay it forward with a bass fishing tournament that is coupled with community outreach.

"Our goal is to serve the under-served community. There are a lot of (minority) children that don't know about the sport of bass fishing," said Carrington, co-founder of Fishing4Reel Outdoors, a company that organizes fishing tournaments.

"I got into it years ago, as an at-risk youth of a single mother (in New York). It was my only (extra-curricular) outlet that didn't cost a dime. All you needed was a stick, some string and a worm. I would hang out with the old fellas and they taught me how to fish. They really took me under their wings.

"To sit on a bucket, on the (river) bank is priceless. If it wasn't for fishing and the great outdoors, I could be sitting in prison right now."

Saturday, 50 anglers will descend upon Gainesville and Laurel Park, with the hopes of snagging the big catch of the day. Before they cast their lines into the water, the anglers will be visiting local schools and even hosting a meet and greet at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County, 1 Positive Place, from 4:30 to 6:30 Friday.

"Everyone is invited to come out and meet the anglers and see some of our equipment. We're going to pull out one of the big boats - it's going to be a nice time," Carrington said.

The visits are more than a show and tell, they're also an opportunity for the students to be exposed to an interracial crowd of male role models.

"A male figure isn't present in a lot of homes," Carrington said.

"We want to come into town as positive, male figures — to present that figure to the children who don't have that."

From 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Fishing4Reel will be hosting a tailgating party at Laurel Park, 3100 Old Cleveland Highway, Gainesville, in conjunction with the awards ceremony for
the tournament.

"It's free and open to the public. There's going to be a cook-out and a live weigh-in," Carrington said.

"First prize for this tournament is going to be $1,500."

There will also be children's games, giveaways and a keynote speaker.

Fishing4Reel hosts tournaments in other states like Florida and North Carolina.

"We're paying out more than $60,000 in prizes this year," Carrington said.

Although this is their first foray into local waters, organizers hope to make the event an annual one.

"Our main goal is to embrace the community and to create a relationship so that we can continue to come back every February. We really want to embrace the spirit of Black History Month, while still being inclusive to other cultures," Carrington said.

"Frederick Douglas once said, ‘It is far better to build up a child than to repair a broken man.' Our goal is to embrace the next generation. If we can at least get parents to take their kids to the water, to let them see what we do, I think it would be an awesome experience."


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