The Cartersville park joined the initiative in 2001, during the loaner offering’s third year of existence. Currently, Red Top is one of 25 state parks and historic sites that are participating in the program presented by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division and State Parks and Historic Sites. The offering is supported by the Sport Fish Restoration Program, which directs funds from a federal excise tax on fishing-related items to activities related to recreational angling.
“We’re actually hoping to maybe capture some people who [fishing] wasn’t the first thought on their mind,” said Melissa Cummings, communications/outreach specialist for the Georgia DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division. “When they came to the park that day, they might have had some other plans and if they see some information about this, they might say, ‘Hey, that might be a fun thing to add to our day.’ That way, they didn’t have to come prepared. Everything’s already there for them, so it’s something that they’re already there enjoying a great day and here’s a way to make it even better.
“It’s been found that fishing is one of those things that can really bring a family together. It’s great together-time. A lot of times, people can develop really neat conversations and relationships out there just hanging out on the water. We think it’s a great combination of capturing two audiences and kind of bringing that together. As far as ... our agency goes, we certainly hope that it inspires somebody to then go out and purchase their own equipment and to continue fishing and to maybe introduce others to it down the road.”
Along with Red Top, the 24 other sites that are participating in the Fishing Tackle Loaner Program are A. H. Stephens in Crawfordville; Amicalola Falls in Dawsonville; Chattahoochee Bend in Newnan; Crooked River in St. Mary’s; Elijah Clark in Lincolnton; F.D. Roosevelt in Pine Mountain; Fort Mountain in Chatsworth; General Coffee in Nicholls; George T. Bagby in Fort Gaines; Georgia Veterans in Cordele; Gordonia-Alatamaha in Reidsville; Indian Springs in Flovilla; Kolomoki Mounds in Blakely; Laura S. Walker in Waycross; Little Ocmulgee in McRae; Magnolia Springs in Millen; Mistletoe in Appling; Moccasin Creek in Clarkesville; Reed Bingham in Adel; Richard B. Russell in Elberton; Seminole in Donalsonville; Tugaloo in Lavonia; Unicoi in Helen; and Victoria Bryant in Royston. Chattahoochee Bend, General Coffee, Georgia Veterans, Gordonia-Alatamaha and Reed Bingham joined the program this year.
Those interested in utilizing the fishing equipment for the day are encouraged to visit the park offices of the participating sites. While it is not required for youth younger than 16, older anglers will need to obtain a fishing license.
“It’s a good [program],” said Jason Harrison, assistant manager at Red Top. “It lets kids and adults alike [participate].
“We’re right here on Lake Allatoona, so we’ve got lots of shoreline. So if they’re camping or if they forgot their poles or whatever and they decide to go fishing, then they can certainly come and borrow one from us. It’s more of a service than anything else.”
For more information about the Fishing Tackle Loaner Program, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/Fishing/TackleLoaner. Along with purchasing fishing licenses at each park office, fishing licenses can be obtained online at www.georgiawildlife.com/licenses-permits-passes or over the phone at 800-366-2661.