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ERIC SHARP: Don't waste fishing gear: Donate it

May 14, 2004


A lot of Michigan anglers have an old rod and reel they don't use anymore, something just gathering dust in a closet. Heck, some people have dozens of them.

Here's a chance to look good in the eyes of your significant other by getting rid of that stuff, and at the same time help get children into fishing: Donate unwanted tackle to a project called Cast Aways for Kids.

The program in Michigan is sponsored by Michigan State University's Project F.I.S.H. and Gander Mountain, the big outdoors retailer. Cast Aways was founded in Minnesota by my pal Ron Schara, familiar to many of you from his "Back Roads with Ron and Raven" outdoors show on ESPN and "Minnesota Bound" show that runs on some Michigan cable channels.

People can take used rods and reels to Gander Mountain stores from Saturday through the end of June. Members of fishing clubs and other outdoors groups will work with youngsters to renovate the equipment, and Cast Aways for Kids will donate the tackle to schools, youth groups and other community programs.

"What we will do is work with the kids to refurbish the donated items, instead of doing it for them," said Mark Stephens, Project F.I.S.H. coordinator. "This way, the kids will learn how to take care of the equipment themselves. Cast Aways for Kids is just another positive tool used to give kids contact with fishing and access to a caring adult."

This isn't an excuse for you to bring in a lot of junk that can't be salvaged. But if a reel is merely a bit sticky or missing a handle, or a rod needs a few new guides, grip or a tip-top, they will be welcomed. Gander Mountain will offer a tangible reward for such good deeds by exchanging the old tackle for a coupon worth $10 off any purchase of $50 or more.

"When you bring in (used tackle), you not only get the monetary incentive, you help get a kid fishing at the same time, which is the essence of Project F.I.S.H.," Stephens said. "This may encourage a kid to become a lifelong steward of Michigan's aquatic resources."

Gander Mountain has 14 stores in Michigan. For the location of the nearest one, visit or call 800-282-5993.

Project F.I.S.H. is a community-supported educational and mentoring program that encourages teachers and volunteers to get kids excited about fishing. It works with the Great Lakes Fishery Trust, the state Department of Natural Resources, MSU and Michigan United Conservation Clubs.

Contact Project F.I.S.H at or by telephone at 517-432-2700
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