On Sunday morning, August 12, Bassmaster Elite Anglers Kurt Dove, Steve Kennedy, James Kennedy, Jim Murray, Ben Matsubu, Peter Thliveros, James Charlesworth, Dave Wolak, Rick Morris and Kevin VanDam led pairs of boys and girls out onto the water in search of Potomac River bass. The pro anglers and the novice anglers were in the Washington, D.C. area for the Capitol Clash, the La Plata, Maryland, stop on ESPN’s Bassmaster Elite Series Tournaments.
The Future Fisherman Foundation, the angling education arm of the American Sportfishing Association, is currently in the first year of a partnership with the Department of Justice (DOJ) Law Enforcement and Youth Partnerships for Crime Prevention to implement a national program that brings fishing and aquatic education to Boys & Girls Clubs across the country through the Future Fisherman Foundation’s Hooked on Fishing - Not on Drugs® program. Each Club selected its youth participants based on solid leadership, good behavior and demonstrated angling skills.
“The kids had a fantastic experience fishing with these pro anglers that they can take back and share with their fellow Boys & Girls Clubs members,” said Future Fisherman Foundation National Program Coordinator Anne Danielski. “The excitement in the kids’ eyes and the smiles on their faces were incredibly heartwarming. It was one of the highlights of my career. The Foundation looks forward to participating in more events like this in the future.”
Although the pros had spent the previous days focused on winning the Capitol Clash, come Sunday morning, all their experience and fishing savvy were devoted to helping the boys and girls improve their angling skills. Many of them said it reminded them of the first time someone took them fishing, and they were happy to pass along the tradition of sportfishing to the next generation. "We talked about football, we talked about fishing and we ate a little," said Pro Angler Peter Thliveros. "It just shows how well it can go when you just go fishing."
The grand-prize-winning team led by Steve Kennedy included Ingrid Camberos and Suzette Martinez from the Boys & Girls Clubs of the South Bay (Calif.), with a total catch of 13 pounds-9 ounces. The girls received tournament shirts signed by Sunday’s Top 12 Bassmaster Elite anglers. Dave Wolak led Brooke True and Josh Ogg from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Green County (Okla.), to second place with third place going to Kisumu Griffith and Demaria Bradley from the Boys & Girls Club of Central Mississippi, led by Peter Thliveros. All participants took home trophies and the once-in-a-lifetime experience of learning angling skills from the best of the best. Timothy McNeill from the Boys & Girls Club of Sanford/Lee County, North Carolina, who fished with VanDam, summed it up the best by saying, “It was the greatest experience of my life.”
“This event wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for the hard work and donations of so many people and companies,” said Foundation Executive Director Mike Bolinder. “Our thanks go to ESPN and the Bassmaster Elite Series pro anglers for providing these young anglers with this chance-of-a-lifetime opportunity. This is something they will never forget.”
American Sportfishing Association members who provided equipment and support are: Shakespeare Fishing Tackle, Zebco/WC Bradley, Plano Molding Company, Boat US, Gemini Sport Marketing, the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and TTI Blakemore Fishing Group.
The participating Boys and Girls Clubs are: Boys & Girls Clubs of the South Bay, Harbor City, CA; Boys & Girls Club of Pomona Valley, Pomona, CA; East Los Angeles Boys & Girls Club, Los Angeles, CA; Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, Silver Spring, MD; Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities, St. Paul, MN; Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Mississippi, Jackson, MS; Boys & Girls Clubs of Sanford Lee Co., Sanford, NC; Boys & Girls Clubs of the Three Affiliated Tribes, New Town, ND; Boys & Girls Clubs of Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV; and Boys & Girls Clubs of Green Country, Pryor, OK.
The Future Fisherman Foundation is the fishing recruitment and education arm of the American Sportfishing Association, the sportfishing industry’s trade association. The Future Fisherman Foundation unites the sportfishing industry with a nationwide network of state outdoor educators, national conservation groups, and youth organizations, offering a variety of fishing and boating programs, equipment, and services to community groups and schools across the country. These efforts help people of all ages have safe and enjoyable fishing experiences that foster conservation ethics.