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#06-21 January 30, 2006

Sportsmen's Classic March 24-26 good place to learn about fishing

Have you ever wanted to learn about fishing but just didn't know where to go? The 22nd annual Palmetto Sportsmen's Classic March 24-26 at the State Fairgrounds in Columbia is a good place to start. It will feature quite a few events to help visitors learn more about the sport of fishing. More than 300 vendors will be on hand with the latest outdoor equipment for sale and viewing.

The 2006 Palmetto Sportsmen's Classic will be open from noon to 9 p.m. Friday, March 24; from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Visitors can view for free the weigh-ins from the Lake Murray National Striped Bass Tournament taking place on Saturday and Sunday.

For more information on the Palmetto Sportsmen's Classic, call the S.C. Department of Natural Resources office at (803) 734-4008 in Columbia or visit the Palmetto Sportsmen's Classic Web site at http://www.psclassic.com.

Admission to the 2006 Palmetto Sportsmen's Classic is $6, and parking is $1. Seniors 60 and over get in for $5 while children 10 and under are admitted free. Visitors bringing five canned food items for Harvest Hope Food Bank receive $1 off admission. Hours are noon to 8 p.m. Friday, March 24; from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

For the children, a free catch-and-release pond will be available. The catch-and-release pond is part of the DNR SC Reel Kids program and designed to be fun and educational for kids, allowing them to work toward goals like catching their first fish, learning about fish and improving fish habitats. SC Reel Kids receive awards for each goal they achieve. If you are already a "Reel Kid," bring your license to the Reel Kids booth at the Classic to receive a surprise.

"Fishing is a whole lot more than just catching," said BeBe Harrison, DNR aquatic education specialist. "We want kids to know that even if they do catch a fish, they don't have to keep it. They can put it back. This is called catch-and-release fishing and is becoming more and more popular as people conserve fish." According to Harrison, the overall goal for the SC Reel Kids program is for youth of South Carolina to learn about, use wisely, and protect the aquatic resources of their state.

And don't forget to visit the Bass Tub, a giant mobile aquarium that stands more than 9 feet tall, is complete with rocks, stumps and other cover you normally find in a lake where you fish. The Sportsmen's Classic March 24-26 good place to learn about fishing 5,000-gallon tub is stocked with live fish including bass, crappie, striped bass and others. The Bass Tub is operated by professional fishermen who stand on top in a small boat and delight in teaching you how to fish, passing on tips they have learned over the years. Visitors will enjoy the reaction of fish to the lures and will learn to better utilize each type for favorite fish species. Fishing really comes alive with a close-up view of a big bass striking a lure. Stop by and watch a demonstration on the Bass Tub in the Nutt Arena.

The Palmetto Sportsmen's Classic is sponsored by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, Harry Hampton Memorial Wildlife Fund, WCOS-FM Radio, WIS-TV and South Carolina Wildlife magazine. The Hampton Fund uses proceeds for natural resources conservation projects in South Carolina. Examples include programs such as Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs; Operation Game Thief; and Project WILD.

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