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Fisherman hopes to lure tourism to McDuffie County and lake area with boat graphics

It wasn't a fisheye he had in mind when designing his new boat.

"I chose yellow because I wanted something to catch people's eye. It stands out when I'm traveling down the highway," professional angler J Todd Tucker said. "It's how I can market both Columbia County and the Clarks Hill Partnership."

Last week at Rhinehart's Oyster Bar in Evans, Mr. Tucker proudly unveiled his new boat with the wrap bearing logos of the Clarks Hill Partnership, including McDuffie County. The new wrap is a result of the Clarks Hill Partnership joining forces with Columbia County to be Mr. Tucker's sponsors.

Mr. Tucker, who resides in Moultrie, Ga., travels 38,000 miles around North America each year participating in Bassmaster and FLW tournaments. Now everywhere he goes, he said he will promote the Clarks Hill area, thus increasing tourism and potential residency to the area.

"I actually get out of this county and get the word out from Texas to Michigan and all down the eastern seaboard," he said.

Not only will he make the presence of Clarks Hill lake known around the country, but the sponsorship means the CNN/ESPN expert source must bring his presence back to the area.

"Whatever comes along, I'm here at their disposal," he said. "We're helping each other."

As a result, Mr. Tucker will be at the Tom Watson Watermelon Festival in Thomson on Aug. 2 when a drawing will be held for some lucky fisherman to win a day of fishing with the professional angler.

The raffle is sponsored by the Thomson-McDuffie County Convention and Visitors Bureau and will benefit the McDuffie Environmental Education Center.

The tourism board hopes to raise between $2,500 and $5,000 through the raffle to help MEEC construct an on-site educational building. Tickets are $10 each, and are available at the CVB office at the Thomson Depot.

Not only is he an expert at fishing - he has logged four Top 10 finishes in Bassmaster competitions and finished the 2007 season ranked 18th in the Southeast Stren Series on the FLW side - but Mr. Tucker also serves as a hunting guide and a consultant/advocate for environmental issues.

"As my list of contacts becomes more broad, I am able to see more people and get the word out about fishing at Clarks Hill," he said last week in an interview with The McDuffie Mirror.

The Clarks Hill Partnership of Georgia is made up of Columbia, Lincoln, McDuffie, Warren and Wilkes counties, which surround the lake, formed to foster economic development and boost tourism.

Although the boat is bright yellow, the sides and trailer feature colorful maps and landmarks of the Clarks Hill Partnership area, with a large logo "Fish Clarks Hill Lake." Smaller logos on the trailer feature each individual county in the partnership. Because Columbia County paid a larger portion into the partnership, it has an additional large logo "Fish Columbia County, Ga."

Web posted on Thursday, June 26, 2008

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