July 30, 2010

Bass 101 Boot Camp teaches students difference between fishing for sport, fishing for fish

Courtesy of Virginia Guard Counterdrupg Program

FORT PICKETT, Va. — Someone once said, “There are two types of fishermen – those who fish for sport and those who fish for fish.”  At the Fort Pickett Reservoir on July 23 -25 it was a little of both. The Kenston Forest Student Angler Federation hosted a Bass 101 Boot Camp for area youth aged 11-18. 

Staff Sgt. Chad Harada, Counterdrug Program administrative NCO, teaches Student Angler Federation students about the hazards of Gateway Drugs at Twin Lakes on Fort Pickett. (Photo courtesy of Virginia Guard Counterdrug Program)

There were 12 participants who attacked the Boot Camp in of search of learning the difference between fishing for sport and fishing for fish. This allowed students from the area with a love of fishing an opportunity to gain more experience on the mechanics that are involved in fishing from professional anglers. The federation partnered with Fort Pickett and National Guard Fishing Team Pro “Doc” McGhee to conduct the camp. Col. Tom Wilkinson, Fort Pickett commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. “Doc” McGhee, also the Fort Pickett Command Sergeant Major, were the highlight instructors at the event supported by a host of other regional bass fishing professionals.

The Student Angler Federation’s goal is to promote education through fishing. Their objective is to relate subject matter and basic principles of education to how anglers use them out on the water every day. Also, the SAF is aimed at getting students off the couch and back into the great outdoors by promoting the formation of fishing clubs and outdoor activities within schools.

“On day one of Boot Camp kids were met by the anglers and received a quick oversight about military discipline, customs, drill & ceremonies, the buddy system, and, of course, the Army’s famous saying ‘HOOAH!’” said Wilkinson.

“For three days these students learned about the mechanics of a fishing rod, lure making, casting skill development, knot tying, boat safety, boat control, boat electronics, top/middle/bottom water column techniques, and map reading,” said McGhee, a professional angler who has jumped in rankings from 61 in 2009 to 16 in 2010 in the Forrest L. Woods Series Eastern Division while representing the Army National Guard. “To finish out the Boot Camp a tournament was held the last day to see how the students apply all the techniques that they learned.”

Staff Sgt. Chad Harada mingles with Student Angler Federation students after completing the Gateway Drug presentation. (Photo courtesy of Virginia Guard Counterdrug Program)

Staff Sgt. Chad Harada from the Virginia National Guard Counterdrug program also provided a gateway drug class to the students to provide education on the risks associated with alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and inhalant abuse.

“Our goal is to provide information to students focusing on the everyday challenges faced by youth in school and life so they are better armed to make good decisions” said Harada. “The use of the gateway substances greatly increases the chances that children will experiment with the harder illegal drugs so arming them to make good decisions early is critical to them reaching their full potential in life.”

The Counterdrug program places Army and Air Guardsmen in communities throughout the Commonwealth conducting Drug Demand Reduction classes for schools and civic organizations, supporting law enforcement agencies with criminal analysts and aviation support, managing the internal drug testing program, and providing all hazard treatment referral services to Guardsmen and their families. They are a supporting effort at the local, state, and federal levels working both supply and demand sides of the drug crisis and are collaborative members of the Governor’s Office for Substance Abuse Prevention, the Governor’s Initiative Against Narcotics Trafficking, and the Attorney General’s Gang Reduction and Intervention Program.

“Bass 101 Boot Camp was a great success with students not only becoming better fisherman, but also building life skills and camaraderie” said Wilkinson.

“Whether fishing for sport or fishing for fish, all the participants were winners in that they learned how to be better at either,” said McGhee. “The students’ efforts paid off with Brian Chipper winning a competitive camp fishing tournament with a three fish limit of 4.34 pounds representing the next generation of anglers very well.”

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