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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Fishing clubs are a hit with school kids



fishing.jpgThis is a very interesting story by our colleague Terry Tomalin on the huge interest in fishing clubs at local high schools. Competitive fishing is hit with the kids, who knew? The burgeoning fishing club program is in 13 of Pinellas County's 17 public high schools, and already has more than 1,000 students participating.

"Just picture thousands of schoolchildren coming here every year to learn about the culture and history of a sport that has helped make the Tampa Bay area what it is," said Jim Simons, who introduced fishing clubs to Pinellas County's school system.

Simons is a former accountant who built the international World Billfish Series into one of the most prestigious big game fishing tournament tours. When he heard an old Gulf Coast Museum of Art property was available, he immediately saw it as a place where anglers could gather.

The facility, off Walsingham Road in Largo's Pinewood Cultural Park, will show off everything from fishing simulators to a working space for marine artists when it opens April 1. But the fishing club program, which kicked off last month, already has more than 1,000 students participating.  "The response has been phenomenal," Simons said. "We are ready to move into the middle schools and then the elementary schools. Our goal is to have over 10,000 students in school fishing clubs by the end of 2012."

If you would like to learn more about the student fishing program, contact Jim Simons at or (727) 365-4660.

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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PHOTO: Michael Misuraca, left, and Sam Trager of Tarpon Springs High join Clearwater High’s Dylan Bradford in the inaugural Fish Off competition between the schools’ fishing clubs. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]

[Last modified: Thursday, March 15, 2012 9:24am]


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