The Virginia Beach Bluewater Fishing Club (VBBFC) has a long and rich history. Originally founded as the Virginia Bluewater Gamefish Association (VBGA), the goal was to promote conservation of pelagic species and educate members about offshore fishing. Although billfish were plentiful, members had difficulty in catching them due to lack of experience. Over time under the leadership of Bob Hutchinson and Steve Humis and with enthusiasm, experience and willingness to help each other, club members developed into some of the best marlin fisherman on the east coast.
The VBGA thrived during the 70s and 80s hosting two offshore tournaments, held a fall oyster roast and encouraged family participation by hosting fishing contests for kids. In the late 80s participation waned until members led by Ray Temple brought the club back stronger than ever. Dr. Jim Wright, on his own initiative and resources held casting contests for kids. Joined by Leslie Creech, they developed a program to educate kids about drugs and to offer fishing as a healthy alternative. This effort has grown into the current Hooked On Fishing Not On Drugs Program (see HOF-NOD page).
In 1995 the VBGA was reorganized and incorporated as the Virginia Beach Billfish Foundation under the leadership of Ray Mangus and Jim Ingham. The club continues the traditions of conservation, education, offshore fishing and support of HOF-NOD. As the HOF-NOD program grew so did the need for additional resources. In 1999 the club held the first annual Tux and Tails Gala to raise funds for this worthwhile program. In 2000 the club formed HOF-NOD into a 501(c) corporation to administer the program and resouces seperately from the other club activities. HOF-NOD provides opportunities for Virginia Beach and Norfolk middle schools to experience fishing as an alternative to drugs. To date over 2000 children have participated in the program.
The club continues to support conservation and has received national recognition from the Billfish Foundation as the number two club worldwide for billfish releases. This success was achieved mainly through the efforts of Bill Van Buren and Captain Tommy Powell. Members Bill Gooch, founder of the Red, White and Blue Tournament, and Bob Stephens were the driving forces behind the development of the Certified Observers Program. This program provides trained observers to release tournaments and those with release divisions. The program was so successful that is is now under the auspices of the IGFA.