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Statesboro native puts on 'World's Largest Kids Fishing Rodeo'
Former Bulloch County schools superintendent, friend host event on St. Simons Island
Billy and Brooks Fishing rodeo 2013
Pictured are Brooks Schoen, left and Dr. Billy Bice, right with one of last years Worlds Largest Kids Fishing Rodeos Grand Slam winners. - photo by Special

Statesboro native and former superintendent of schools Dr. Billy Bice and his wife, Florence Ann, retired to St. Simons Island several years ago. Shortly after moving there, he purchased a 22-foot Pathfinder bay boat and began Billy Bee Charters. Billy caters to families, but the focus is on children.

"There is nothing more exciting than watching a child catch a fish, especially their first fish," Billy Bice said. "We put (the catch) back in the ocean, and everybody goes home happy."

Three years ago, Bice and his friend Brooks Schoen, a fellow Coast Guard-licensed captain and avid fisherman who lives in Atlanta but owns a second home on Sea Island, started the World's Largest Kids Fishing Rodeo. The event will be held this year on St. Simons Island on Saturday.

The goal is to catch a Patriotic Slam - a redfish, a whiting and a blue fish. Everyone who is lucky enough to complete this will win a prize. The tournament runs on the honor system, and every child will take an oath to catch and release on the water and bring nothing back to shore but the truth.

To date, the tournament has raised about $10,000, all of it earmarked for the Boys and Girls Club of Southeast Georgia. When asked how he knew it was the largest rodeo, Bice said, "it would be until somebody tells them that it isn't."

A neighbor of Schoen on Sea Island who also happens to sit on the board of directors of Zebco, a national maker of fishing rods and reels, gave $5,000 seed money to the
tournament the first year. He also purchases Zebco rods each year to give to the 100 kid anglers who register.

"Billy seems ageless when he talks of fishing and kids in the same sentence. He has a real affection for young people," Schoen said.

"I don't have grandchildren of my own," Bice said, "so I get to borrow them for a while."

Hooks go in the water 8 a.m. Saturday for the fourth annual World's Largest Kids Fishing Rodeo on St. Simons Island. Prizes will be awarded at 2 p.m. at tournament headquarters, the Gascoigne Bluff picnic area.

Registration is $25 per team and includes one kid angler. Each additional angler costs $25, and each team must include one angler 15 or younger. You can fish from a boat, pier or the beach.

A brand new Zebco rod and reel will be given to the first 100 kid anglers to register.

In addition to the new rod and real and other treats, each child who registers will get a raffle ticket for door prizes donated by the sponsors. You can contact Billy at Billy B Charters, (912) 269-9983, for more information on the event or family charters.


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