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Fishing boat on water.

Gone Fishing

TVA and Partners Inspire a Love of Fishing

Over 70 kids descended the stairs from the parking lot on an early June morning, anxious to bait hooks, cast reels and wear waders.

They were part of the Kids Fish Free day sponsored by Tennessee Valley Authority, the Knoxville Chapter of the TVA Retirees Association, Bicentennial Volunteers, Inc., and the Clinch River Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

“This is a statewide event, and we have this great resource [the Clinch River] in our backyard,” said John Chambers, Trout Unlimited event coordinator. “We could not do this type of function without TVA or the Retirees Association.”

Woman helping child into waders.

Kids climbed into waders before casting their lines.

Children of all ages had the opportunity to experience various types of fishing, including traditional rod and reel, fly fishing and boat fishing.

“I hope to catch 4,300 fish. Then I’m going to take them home and put them in a jar to play with,” said a young girl gearing up to head out on the boats.

Bryan Johnson, TVA community relations specialist, met one of the most excited fishers, Ray Allen, at the recent Special Olympics event in Knoxville.

“The whole time we were together, we were talking about fishing,” Johnson said. “I told him if he won his next event that we would go fishing. Of course, he won it – I told him I had the perfect event for him, so I’m glad to see him here.”

From beginners to seasoned pros, everyone had a chance to reel in a catch and experience the thrill of fishing, including Ray and his younger brother, Jay.

“Ray and Jay are the youngest of our ten children, and after he met Bryan and they talked about fishing, he was really excited about it. He bugged his mom about it every day,” Ray’s father, Dwyane Allen, said.

Guided by a team of experienced anglers, they cast their lines into the water, eagerly awaiting the tug of a fish.

“I helped start this chapter of Trout Unlimited, and we support TVA because they have made the habitat better here with the weir and the dam releases, as well as the work they have done on the turbines to oxygenate the water,” said Dennis Baxter, a retired TVA aquatic biologist. “The Clinch River Chapter of Trout Unlimited helps convey the message of TVA’s stewardship of the Valley region.”

Girl holding new fishing rod and reel.

Participants left with a new rod and reel.

Not only did the kids get to fish, but the Knoxville TVARA chapter treated the kids present at the close of the event to lunch and gave them each a brand-new rod and reel.

“Last year it was heartbreaking to see how sad the kids that didn’t win the drawing were, so this year we bought 50 rods and reels in hopes that everyone could go home with one,” said Sammy Sweetland, immediate past president of the Knoxville TVARA chapter. “Watching these kids fish, the expressions they have when they put those waders on, is the best part.”

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TVA retirees continue to serve across the region. Learn more about the TVA Retirees Association.

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