In 2012 and the beginning of 2013 I was doing a lot of fishing, a lot. It was almost as if I was trying to catch up for all my lost time on the water. It was all great and I was having fun but with the condition of our Indian River Lagoon, I wanted to do more than fish. I wanted to get involved. Now it's mid 2014 and I'm more involved than I ever thought I would be. I have traded in all my extra fishing time for volunteer duties and trying my best to support our community and things I'm passionate about. I have spent enough time during the last six months doing my best to fine tune my commitments and I'm happy to say that I can see the light and my ducks are lined up in a nice little row. I'm going fishing soon.
Thanks to the Marince Resources Council for letting Anglers For Conservation hold both camps at the Ted Moorhead Lagoon House.
The second installment of ATAC (Advanced Teen Anglers Camp) was very successful. We had a total of 8 anglers in June and this month we had 12. Again I was happy to see all 12 show up the second day. These young men were focused and excited to be there. I knew this because they all stayed awake during a slide show with the lights off after eating lunch from Long Doggers and being in the sun all morning. ATAC hit a home run in the summer of 2014.
Working the seine net. Species included pogies, mojarra, lookdown, puffers, mullet, blue fish.
1 of over 3500 reasons the IRL is the most diverse estuary in the United States.
The goal for this two day camp was to help teens learn more about advanced fishing techniques and how to be a better angler. One of the biggest parts of being a better angler is understanding our environment as well as conservation. As I'd love to break down the two day camp station by station, I fear the WWW and would like to protect the hard work that was put in to the syllabus. Let's just say a group of very experienced anglers tossed everything they had at these teens in a matter of 12 hours per camp. It was a lot to take in at the end of the day but they were all keeping up just fine.
Boating, kayaking, safety, etiquette. They all loved kayaking.
Impact. I thought of one word that would describe the 24 hours I spent with these 20 future leaders and that was it. Not only did we make an impact as a group, we will make an impact simply by the ripple effect. Together WE made enough oyster mats to cover over 25 square feet of estuary floor. Together WE planted over 40 new mangroves that will help establish a more stable shoreline. Together WE all learned something new and will share it with someone. Together WE made an impact.
Oyster Mats-Thanks to Jody Palmer and the Brevard Zoo's Oyster Restoration Project.
Mother Nature was kind enough to keep the storms away during both camps but she sure did bring the heat. We all stayed hydrated and kept a good balance of inside/outside activities. This in itself is a great learning experience as you always have to take care of your body first before going out fishing. Lack of water on the water in the summer months in Florida will leave you ill in a very bad way.
As we wrapped things up, each one of these young men came to shake my hand to say thanks. I couldn't help but to be a bit sad to say bye to all my new friends. As I fit in with most adults, I fit in better with younger people because I refuse to grow up. On the second day during Da Kine Diego's lunch, I couldn't help but laugh as they were shooting each other with rubber bands while Capt Rodney Smith and I talked about sustainability. The rubber bands held the insane burritos together. Without killing too much fun, Rodney and I regained control. We also had a pretty comical post lunch conversation about farts because the burritos came with beans. It was all exactly what I would have wanted in a camp when I was 13. Sad but yet happy and confident to see these guys complete Advanced Teen Anglers Camp.
There was one angler missing in this photo because he had to leave early.
ATAC would not have been possible without the help of volunteers and sponsors.
Volunteers-in no particular order
Capt Rodney Smith
Capt Gary Brown
Capt Mark Wright
Capt Ricky Banks
Capt Alex Gorichky
Jody Palmer and the Brevard Zoo Crew
Marine Resources Council staff and interns
Keep Brevard Beautiful
Da Kine Diago's
Harry Goode's Outdoor Shop
Pro-Cure Bait Scent
Capt Mark Wright
Capt Rickey Banks Lures
Grand Slam Baits
Shallow Addiction Magazine
Capt Rodney Smith
Orvis Fly Fishing
Environmental Learning Center
The Marine Resources Council
JJ's Screen Printing
Advanced Teen Anglers Camp, see you in the summer of 2015.