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Captains meeting set for Friday night
One of the many events headlining this year's two-day Liberty Fest
celebration is the newly named “Allen Branch Inshore Trout Tournament,” sponsored by Trapnell Quality Used Cars.
Tournament participants are asked to attend the captain's meeting Friday at 5:30 p.m. at the Sunbury Crab Company.
For those anglers who have not registered, it’s a final opportunity to pay registration fees and secure a shot at the prizes.
The fees are $55 per angler and the redfish calcutta is an additional $20 fee.
Entrants must have a current Georgia fishing license.
According to organizers, this year's top prize is $1,000 cash.
The first hour of the meeting
will give the captains an opportunity to meet and greet participants while registration is completed. Meeting attendees will be served dinner while organizers go over the rules
of the tournament. The meeting
will end with giveaways and door prizes.
The first lines hit the water no earlier than 6 a.m. Saturday and check-in will be from 2-4 p.m. Winners will take the main stage at 4:30 p.m. to receive cash prizes and gifts.
As for the tournament's namesake, Allen Branch is known by locals as the coastal area’s father of fishing. Branch moved his family from Savannah to Colonel's Island in 1951. He owned and operated one of the first marinas on the island. Simply called Branch's Marina, known now as Half Moon Marina, it was the beginning of what has become Branch’s living legacy — the protection of species and maintenance of this region’s pristine coastline. Branch owned the marina for more than 30 years and eventually ran a fishing charter. It was during this time he realized the need for conservation.
In 1976, Congress formed a four-state council to prevent over-fishing by foreign and domestic ships within 200 miles of the Atlantic Coast. The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council consisted of 13 members representing Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
Branch served as the council's vice chairman in 1981-1982 and the chairman in 1982-1983.
As the councilman representing Georgia, Branch worked diligently toward legislation and resolutions that would be fair to both commercial and recreational fishermen.
While chairman, he formed the Law Enforcement and the Environmental Protection Committee. He helped locate and develop new fishing grounds for speckled trout and other species of game fish and consulted with various agencies in the development of oyster beds and pollution control.
His marina was used by the University of Georgia for research and by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources for game management. He also aided the county rescue unit and worked with the U.S. Coast Guard helping stranded boaters from Sapelo Sound to Bear River. In August 1994, Branch retired from the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council after completing six consecutive terms, thereby becoming the longest serving council member in the nation.
His love for fishing and family continues to this day. Branch continues to write a weekly column for the Coastal Courier called Tight Line and enjoys living along the coast taking in the scenery he fought so hard to maintain.

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