A group of local children set out on Tuesday to catch some fish and positive vibes at the 27th annual Hooked on Fishing – Not on Drugs Fishing Day.
Hooked on Fishing – Not on Drugs is a national program started in the 1990’s by the Future Fisherman Foundation and was brought to Hampton Roads by the Virginia Beach Bluewater Fishing Club (VBBFC) in 2000, calling it VBBFC HOF-NOD.
According to the Future Fishermen Foundation website, the goal is to unite the fishing industry, state outdoor educators, national conservation groups and youth organizations in order to introduce America’s youth to fishing and the outdoors.
“We believe that fishing is not only a great way to get our children unplugged and engaged in a healthy outdoor activity, it is an ideal way to develop an appreciation for our fragile aquatic resources,” the Future Fisherman Foundation said on its site.
The program is made up of trained aquatic education professionals and volunteers in over 30 states.
The Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office (VBSO) has supported the program for 10 years and last year, WAVY reported that 70 volunteers from the sheriff’s office came out to support.
On Tuesday, staff from VBSO and other local volunteers invited kids from all backgrounds to attend the free event.
Over 100 kids ages 9 to 14 participated in this year’s event and attended educational sessions at the Virginia Beach Law Enforcement Training Academy on Integrity Way.
They learned about marine species, how to use a fishing rod and reel, knot-tying skills, boat safety and other fun, outdoorsy topics.
According to VBBFC HOF-NOD, the program has taken past participants to fish about 13 miles out into the Atlantic Ocean.
The fun doesn’t stop in the sea. Once the fishing expedition ended, kids returned to the training academy for a fun-filled awards ceremony and cookout.
Previous ceremonies have included trophies and awards. All children who attended went home with goodies in tow.
“All participants receive a commemorative t-shirt and a saltwater fishing rod and reel and a tackle box,” the program said on its website. “Trophies are awarded for each boat catching the Heaviest Fish, Most Released Points, Most Fish Caught etc., as well as second and third place trophies.”
VBBFC HOF-NOD is a nonprofit organization funded by its own annual oyster roast, as well as local businesses and service clubs.