For the Lake Oconee Anglers, it’s a lot more than being “a club.” Sure, this group gets together regularly for fish tournaments and competitions on the lake. But there’s a lot more attention paid above the surface of the lake as well by this avid group of anglers.

For starters – there’s teaching the future generations about the sport. Educating children to fish can be tricky, with most youngsters not liking to touch the bait worms, or even hold the little fish they catch. However, each quarter the Lake Oconee Anglers team up with Reynolds Lake Oconee to sponsor Kids Pond Fishing at Carolyn’s pond.  The club provides all the necessary equipment and works to instill a true love of fishing so that kids can have a fun time and leave with a smile and good memories.  “We just want them to have an appreciation for fishing and being at the pond,” says Lake Oconee Anglers president, Andy Burch. “Let them see what it’s like to catch a fish.”

The Lake Oconee Anglers’ year begins in February with a “Kick Off Dinner,” prepared by members of the Reynolds Lake Oconee culinary team. The evening features recognition of new members and of the winners of the past year’s fishing categories such as “Big Bass”, “Most Total Weight”, “Angler of the Year”, etc.  There is a special Guest speaker, the dinner of course and plenty of fellowship and fish tales to follow. 

With its 374 miles of shoreline, as well as 42 Reynolds Lake Oconee ponds surrounding the community, the Anglers have plenty of options to fish. But following their kick-off dinner, the group spends a lot of time educating themselves on proper practices, conservation techniques and current trends in their industry. Monthly meetings from March through November include guest speakers ranging from expert dealers of Lowrance and Hummingbird electronics, Outdoor Journalists, Local Fishing Guides to DNR personnel.  Each presents current trends and information to make members better fishermen and boaters.  The club also plans several fishing trips each year to other states or exotic locations. 

As stewards of Lake Oconee, the Anglers have teamed with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) as extra “Eyes on the Lake” in order to help with maintaining a healthy lake environment. Members have an open line with the DNR in order to report any changes in Lake Habitat and fish health. “We have a very talented and intelligent bunch of guys in our group”, says Burch, a retired teacher, coach and athletic director who has lived in Reynolds Lake Oconee with his wife Carole since 2008.  “We all share the same concern for being stewards of the lake.  Club members not only value comradery but have the commitment and dedication to do the right thing for the lake and ponds.” Burch goes on to explain how, each year, the club holds clean up days on the lake to ensure the preservation of their surrounding waters. 

Sharing their passion for fishing is second-nature to the Anglers, which hosts a fall outing for active members of the military that are rehabilitating from injuries.  They are paired up with LOA members for lake fishing, and then a lunch, “So we can all trade stories and fishing tales”, says Burch, who is an ex-Marine as well.  The Anglers also established The Ron Mertz Fund this past year to help sponsor The Georgia College and State University Bass Fishing Team.

Reynolds Lake Oconee is a great place for fishermen,” continues Burch.  “Many Lake Oconee Anglers live on the lake or keep their boats at one of the marinas,” he says. “That makes it easy to go fishing whenever they want for the excitement or sometimes the peace and serenity the lake offers as well.”  

Perhaps one of the best parts of being an Angler is there is no requirement to own a boat as a member.  If a member doesn’t own a boat, they are paired with a boat owner for tournaments as a co-Angler. New friends are made and new fishing techniques are learned. 

It’s true that the fishing on the lake is great. And the Anglers definitely have their eyes fixed on hooking the next big prize. But when the boat is stationed in the dock, these members have their focus on making sure future generations can enjoy the lake just as much as they have for all these years.

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