I met Mike Conneen a while back and for the lack of suitable time, I’ve been meaning to assist in hosting an event for his organization Anglers For Conservation. The event that means the most to us (CFODT), is the Hook Kids On Fishing Florida-based events that he created for kids 6-16 gather not only fishing knowledge, but also conservation knowledge. It’s entirely important, as this is the generation that will take over when our time is out, and who better to take it over than knowledgable individuals who genuinely care about the outdoors, whether it be a fish, a flower, or even just the air.
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to host the HOOK Kids On Fishing St. Johns River/Astor, FL Event that had been postponed due to poor weather and flooding since this past fall. We had an awesome turnout, as we approached the high 40’s in head count for the kids. Absolutely a great event. What struck me as intriguing for this particular event has how captivating Mike was with the kids. He truly has a spot for our future in his heart, and his vehicle is pretty clear.
I met up with Mike and another volunteer early that morning around 7:30am at Astor Bridge Marina & Motel. Together, we started preparing for what would be an awesome day! We put together over 40 rod and reel combos that were generously donated by Fish Florida for all the kids. Mike got the stations set up, while we finished up the rods, and before we knew it, we had a few vehicles showing up.
We had such a great reach for an event held in West Volusia County, even as far out as Flagler County and all through Lake County, as well. It’s easy to see how an event like this can bring a lot of out-of-county families to experience something new! Mike gathered the kids and parents around him and introduced everyone, as well as went over a few topics and literally got the crowd fired up! Soon after, we broke out into a few groups, and the kids enjoyed a solid hour of learning about conservation, casting, tackle, knots and more. Each station took a little bit of time and when the whistle was blown, everyone went through to the next station.
After the kids went through all the stations, we started rigging up their rods with bait provided by Astor Bait & Tackle/Outdoors With Jake, which was an awesome supply of red worms and minnows! It wasn’t but a few minutes before some fish were caught!
I’d have to say, all in all, I was so impressed with the turnout and the message delivered, and how much retention the kids had for such a wide age range. I can’t wait to host the next one in our area, and am even more so excited to see how far his organization will go in the future. If you’ve got a child 6-16, and you want them to get a brand new perspective on how awesome the outdoors are, then I highly suggest you look for one of the HOOK Kids On Fishing events that Mike puts on. You can find more information on the Anglers For Conservation Website or hop over to Facebook give them a follow.