Youth Education Report

by Greg Kucharewski
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association October 2020 Newsletter)

I was fishing next to Andrew Campbell at Bayhead beach when he landed a Striped Bass about 24 – 26 inches caught on metal. It is good to see youngsters fishing on the beach again. During the current health situation, it seems like more people are starting to learn about surf casting.

NJ HOFNOD Fishing Challenge

The Hooked on Fishing-Not on Drugs Program's Youth Fishing Challenge statewide event will take place on the state's second Free Fishing Day, Saturday, October 17th, when no license is required to fish regardless of age. See the NJ HOFNOD Youth Fishing Challenge page for more information.

During 2020, think about becoming a HOFNOD instructor. New Jersey HOFNOD facilitator workshops are hosted by the DEP Division of Fish and Wildlife and it is well worth the time to learn creative aquatic activities to teach youngsters the importance becoming environmental stewards. This workshop is a great learning experience. If you are interested in attending a NJ HOFNOD workshop, please phone or email Liz Jackson, NJ HOFNOD Coordinator Phone: 908-637-4125 x122 email:

Brick High School HOFNOD

I spoke to Tim Brennan, Brick High School Health and Physical Education teacher, and he informed me the BHSFC postponed their NJ HOFNOD programs until the spring of 2021.

Students are encouraged to continue learning about aquatic education and practice fishing skills outside of school activities. Brick high school students that would like to participate in the NJ HOFNOD Fishing Challenge can attend an event with their parent or guardian. Visit the NJ HOFNOD website for program updates.

Lake Julianna Fishing Rodeo a Great Success

On August 30, 2020, veterans, active-duty military personnel and youngsters along with their families enjoyed a fun day at Ponderosa Estates Farm in Millstone to catch and release fish at Lake Julianna. The goal of the Weekend Fishing Rodeo was to offer special needs children and disabled veterans a day to fish and feel the health benefits of getting in touch with nature while making good memories.

Due to weather advisories, the 4th Annual Play HOOK-e “Kid’s Wish’n to go Fish’n” (KWTGF) Fun Day and Take a Veteran Fishing Day was combined to a one-day fishing event. Don Marantz, Event Chairman, Vito Cardinale, Cardinale Enterprises LCC, and Randy Johnson, Laurita Winery solved environmental improvements and parking logistics to provide a fun filled day for all in attendance. Over 350 attendees enjoyed the festivities at Lake Julianna. A special thank you to Danielle Wyant and Sarra Barker and Cardinale Enterprises for their communication skills to notify all attendees about event changes.

As children and veterans arrived at the event, they were greeted by Play HOOK-e welcome team volunteers that provided instructions for the day, temperature checks, welcome bags, loaner rods/reels, toys for children, KWTGF youth tee shirts, and goodie bags. Corporal Philip A. Reynolds Detachment Marine Corps League, Freehold, NJ helped set the tone for a patriotic fishing event by providing a Color Guard and music. Members of the 514 Mobility Wing helped gather families for the opening ceremony.

More than 30 fishing volunteers were available to assist children and veterans that came to fish. Veterans attending the event also helped youngsters cast a line. Participants had the use of loaner fishing rods and reels, rigs, and Spring Lake Freezer Bait Company made sure there was plenty of worms for catching fish. “NJ Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs” certified instructors Mike and Debbie Bennett of Boating Education and Rescue provided fishing tips and bait rod/reel trailer. Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Heroes On The Water,, Jersey Shore Surfcasters, Newark Bait and Fly Casting Club, New Jersey Beach Buggy Association, Hudson River Fishermen’s Association, Berkeley Striper Club, NJ State Federation of Sportsmen Clubs, MA22, Trout Unlimited, Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 12 all helped children and disabled veterans fish.

Youngsters enjoyed pony rides, NJ State Police K9 demo/vehicle display, hayrides, remote control flying model airplanes/ground displays and Millstone Township emergency vehicles. Immediate Care health care professionals set up their first-aid station and provided free COVID rapid testing. Friends and family of Mr. Cardinale served food to everyone in attendance at the BBQ area, Red Express Pizza, and Helping Hands of Jackson hotdog cart. We thank our gracious host and all the volunteers that assisted to make the 4th Annual Play HOOK-e KWTGF and Take a Veteran Fishing Day a great success.

Many organizations/businesses contributed and came out to volunteer their time, New Jersey State Federation of Sportsmen Clubs, Pro Tapes C.O.R.E., Big Brother Big Sister, BEAR Environmental Educators , NJ State Police, Hamilton Station, Millstone Fire Department, Boy Scouts, Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, The Fisherman Magazine, Bogan's Brielle Bait & Tackle, Gabriel CO., Jersey Hooker Outfitters, Betty & Nicks B&T, The Tin Man Lures, Grumpy’s B&T, Reel Seat B&T, Pell’s Sport and Fish, Boating Education and Rescue, Central Jersey Rifle and Pistol Club Warrior Program, MA 22, Recalibrate, Jersey Shore Surfcasters, New Jersey Elks, Trout Unlimited, Newark Bait and Fly Casting Club, Hudson River Fisherman's Association, New Jersey Beach Buggy Association, and several other volunteers/veterans organizations.

Contributors: Cardinale Enterprises LLC. family and friends, Randy Johnson Laurita Winery, East Gate Nursery, Bill- Jim Construction Co., Immediate Care Inc., SFC Enterprises, Top shelf nursery, My 3 Sons HVAC, Sea Coast Chevrolet, Village Donut Shop, Wood Fire Pizza/Blackie’s Welding Service, Model Flying Airplanes, Phinas Farms, Magnakron, Rosetto realty, PDS Engineering, Joint Base McGuire 514th Air Mobility Wing, Tom Zapcic Photography, DR Horton builders, Sea Coast, Jackson Helping Hands, Phil's Tree Service, Red Wagon Farm Stand, Spring Lake Freezer, Teddy Bears By the Seashore, Bagel Bistro, Suggs Nicholas Shea Inc, Dairy Queen, Frogbridge Day Camp, County All-Stars, Black Bear Day Camp, Jersey Coast Anglers Association, Marine Corps League, Vietnam Veterans of America Shore Area Chapter 12.

Support Local Tackle Dealers

We recently visited local tackle dealers to setup our Play HOOK-e display and inform veterans and their families about our “Play HOOK-e from PTSD” programs. All our Play HOOK-e veterans are encouraged to shop at local tackle dealers. Most tackle dealers offer discounts to veterans. Here is a link to a dealer list.

Veterans that stopped by our table received a welcome gift bag supplied by Vietnam Veterans of America Shore Area Chapter 12 and Jersey Coast Anglers Association. We informed veterans about our JCAA newspaper and Play HOOK-e bi-monthly newsletter. Many thanks to participating tackle dealers for supporting our magnet campaign and allowing us space to speak to veterans at their business. If your business would like us to setup a Play HOOK-e Go Fishing display, please contact Greg at 732-785-9278.

During October, we are offering veterans with PTSD an opportunity to relax for a few hours by the water and visit natural calming areas. If you would like to experience saltwater and freshwater fishing, we have a short one-to-one fishing program to get you outdoors to fish and boat. Connect with nature at Lake Julianna, LZ- 64, Island Beach State Park, and other open spaces. To schedule a day and time, please email Greg @ Let us know what your interests are and we will do our best to get you outdoors.

Big Fluke Catch: It Pays to Volunteer

A few days before fluke season ended, Joe Scutro NJ HOFNOD instructor and Play HOOK-e volunteer caught his personal best big fluke 9.4 lb. 32 inches long at Manasquan Inlet Wall. It pays to volunteer! Joe usually helps other anglers learn to fish and most often takes time to mix volunteering with fishing. According to Tim Burden, JSS, NJ HOFNOD and Play HOOK-e volunteer who worked the extended long handle net to capture the huge fluke stated: “I was happy to be the net manager that day and it’s not that often us surf casters get the chance to see fluke that size.”

We meet a lot of veterans at the inlet and that same day I met combat veteran Gerard Walsh, Commander DAV Chapter 16 (former door gunner/command control) and told him about our Play HOOK-e one-to-one fishing program for veterans. I introduced Gerard to our Play HOOK-e volunteers Joe and Tim that take time to offer fishing assist and help with our JCAA Youth Education programs. Gerard liked the idea about small group fishing and looks forward to attending one of our fishing programs. Who knows maybe the next big fish will be a Striped Bass?

Photo by Henry Kline, Marine Veteran
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