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Washington County canoe race benefits fishing

| Monday, April 21, 2014, 7:54 p.m.

Ten Mile Creek in Washington County has been stocked with trout — some big ones, too.

Now it's time to pay the bill.

The people behind the Marianna Outdoorsmen Association will go a long way toward doing that Saturday with their annual canoe race. The run — anywhere between 3.2 and 3.8 miles — starts at 11 a.m. at Main Street in Marianna.

It ends downstream on private property located off Davis Lane, where a giant post-race party will be held. There will be country and rock bands, food, games and children's activities.

“It's a good run,” said Ed Thomas of Marianna, one of the event's founders.

“But we're more than a canoe race these days. We're just growing by leaps and bounds.”

The goal of the race and party is to raise money to protect and improve the watershed while also sponsoring outdoor recreation.

Proceeds are used to stock trout in Ten Mile Creek, for example. About $10,000 worth of fish — brook, brown, rainbow and golden rainbow trout — will go into the stream in a year's time. Most were stocked prior to opening day of trout season.

“Our fish went from 10 inches to 30 inches,” Thomas said. “We did have one big brown trout caught on opening day that went 31.5 inches, though. We're not sure if that was a holdover from last year's stocking or just an extra-big one we got this year.”

Canoe race organizers have bigger plans for the future.

In taking on associate members for the first time, it hopes to raise enough money to stock pheasants for hunters and hold a fishing tournament in the fall to benefit a local Wounded Warriors chapter, Thomas said. The club also is looking to start a disaster relief arm and acquire property, he added.

The canoe race is the biggest part of making all that possible.

“It's an exciting thing for this little town,” Thomas said. “It's probably the biggest thing that happens in this community in a year's time.”

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at bfrye@tribweb.com or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

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