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Veterans catch rainbows in the rain

A man showing off a rainbow trout he caught.
Veteran Bill Dinardi shows his catch. Photo by Crystal Thomas, USFWS.

On May 5, Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery near Suches, Georgia, held its fifth annual Veterans Appreciation Fishing Rodeo. Rainy, cool weather did not stop more than 125 U.S. military veterans and family members from attending the free event. About 2,000 beautiful rainbow trout were stocked into Rock Creek, including a number of fish averaging three pounds or more.

On May 10, a free invitational fishing rodeo for children and adults with special needs was held at the hatchery. More than 250 participants and staff members and parents from Mineral Springs Center in Blue Ridge, Avita in Blairsville, and school systems from Fannin, Union, Lumpkin and Towns counties came out to enjoy the sunny, fun-filled morning of fishing. Many trout were taken home for future fish fries or as trophies. Backpacks were provided to participants courtesy of Friends of the Hatchery.

More than 70 volunteers from the local community assisted with both events. They represented Friends of the Hatchery, Appalachian Judicial Court System, Fannin County EMS Fire and Rescue, Georgia Forestry Commission, USDA Forest Service, XTreme Christian Outdoors, Blairsville House of Prayer, Blairsville First Baptist Church, Project Healing Waters, Fannin County EMS, and Trout Unlimited Chapters of Blairsville, Blue Ridge, Dahlonega, and Clarkesville. Lunch from Mike’s BBQ in Blue Ridge was served to veterans and Special Kids volunteers by Friends of the Hatchery. Water was provided by Coca-Cola. Doughnuts and coffee were provided by Dunkin Donuts.

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