Hooked on Fishing – Not on Drugs (HOF-NOD) is a program initiated by the Future Fisherman of America. To those of us who learned to fish as a child, angling has been a part of our lives for as long as we can remember. Whether fishing is learned as a child or adult, it tends to be a lifelong pursuit shared with people who are important to us, giving us lasting memories of happy times with family and friends.
The late Dr. Jim Wright, Virginia Beach, started the local effort of this program in 1990. He held Casting Tournaments for youth and gave prizes to the winners. Dr. Wright provided the promotion and prizes without any financial help. Upon realizing the impact a program like this could have on our young people, Mr. Leslie Creech began an expanded citywide program that is now supported by the Virginia Beach Bluewater Fishing Club, Hooked on Fishing-Not on Drugs, Inc.
During the early winter of 1991, Leslie Creech, with assistance from Dr. Wright, put in place the expanded program. For eight years the HOFNOD program consisted of two separate outings. Eight to ten elementary schools were invited to participate. Students from third, fourth and fifth graders in each participating schools were asked to write an essay an “Why Drugs Are Not For Me.” Teachers then selected two essay winners from the third and fourth grades and four winners from the fifth grade. These winners were awarded an inshore fishing trip on various sport fishing boats donated by the private boat owners. The participants returned from their fishing trip to an Awards Party at the Fisherman’s Wharf Marina. Youth with the largest caught fish were awarded an offshore fishing trip on two private vessels. All program costs were subsidized by donations from local Virginia Beach businesses.
In 1999, the Virginia Beach Bluewater Fishing Club joined efforts with the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Department to offer this program in all public elementary and middle schools through the D.A.R.E. Program.
The DARE program promotes appropriate choices and preventive strategies concerning drugs and alcohol, which reflects the goals of the Hooked on Fishing-Not On Drugs program. Selected graduates of the DARE program were awarded a spot on the spring fishing trip. On the day of the trip, the youth learned the skills necessary to fish safely; they learned to identify different species of fish; they learned how to tie knots and learned about conservation. After lunch, the youth boarded head boats sponsored by Fred Feller of Rudee Inlet Tours –to fish in the Atlantic Ocean some 13 miles out. Upon their return, they were treated to a supper Cookout and Awards. All participants received a commemorative t-shirt and a saltwater fishing rod and reel and a tackle box. Seven trophies were award for each boat catching the Most Release Points, Most Fish Caught, Most Unusual Catch, and the Heaviest Fish.
As of July 1, 2015, the City of Virginia Beach did not Fund the D.A.R. E. program nor their deputies. However, the Sheriff of Virginia Beach, Ken Stolle, pledged that his office will help run the HOF-NOD KIDS Fishing Day with his deputies. The Virginia Beach City Public Schools through the site Principals and counselors recommend youth for the HOF-NOD Kids Fishing Day.
We at the Virginia Beach Bluewater Fishing Club-HOF-NOD, Inc. are very proud and dedicated to the continuing success and growth. Our efforts help youth have a safe and enjoyable fishing experience that fosters conservation ethics.
This program has been around for 28 years and relies on the generosity of local businesses, community service clubs and a VBBFC Fund Raiser.
In 2000, this program reached another level. VBBFC HOF-NOD, Inc was formed and recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a non-profit program and awarded a 501c3 status.