Fishing is slow, but youngsters enjoy the outing

Sun Journal
Harvey Pye with the Fairfield Harbour Fishing Club asks Quadaisha Banks about the fish she caught while fishing with her 'big sister' and others during Take a Kid Fishing Day at Red Sail Park

           Liz Bowles/Sun Journal


FAIRFIELD HARBOUR -- Daniel Neilson said he wanted to know Saturday morning where all the "gosh darn fish" were.


Daniel, who is 13, spent about three hours fishing before he finally caught a one-foot striper. He had some help from members of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeastern North Carolina program. He said he threw the fish back in the water because it was not big enough.


It was the second annual "take a kid fishing day" event sponsored by the Fairfield Harbour Fishing Club, a nonprofit organization that formed about five years ago. Bob Bruggeworth, a member, said he walked into the Big Brothers Big Sisters office on Neuse Boulevard last year because club members wanted to find a way to help children. They decided to take them fishing.


Daniel Neilson and 24 other children spent several hours on the water Saturday with their big brothers, big sisters and fishing club members.


Quadaisha Banks of Bridgeton caught three fish and saw jellyfish in the water. Quadaisha, who is 10, put her fish in a plastic bag of ice. She said she would take the fish home for her mother to clean and cook for dinner.


Quadaisha and the other children will get to keep the poles they fished with, thanks to Donald Willis of Team Daiwa, a company that donated them. Each child also received a tackle box, a trophy and other prizes.


The whole event shows how many people in the New Bern area care about children, said Johneiquel Smith-Griffin, the CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeastern North Carolina. The organization serves children in Carteret, Craven, Jones and Onslow counties.


"We always say little moments make magic," Smith-Griffin said. "Today we've seen a lot of those moments."


Some children said they didn't catch any fish. One of them, Kevin Socci, said all he caught was a nap on the boat.


"It rocked me to sleep," he said. "But it was a great time."


Kevin, who is 15, went fishing with his big brother, Ellis Banks of Pollocksville.


Banks became a big brother six years ago after he retired from teaching. He said he missed being around kids.


Banks and Kevin often go hunting. Kevin woke up at 5 a.m. Saturday to work on a deer stand in the woods with Banks before they went fishing.


"My relationship with Kevin has gone much further than the big brother program," Banks said. "This has just been really great today. Some of these kids have never been in a boat, much less on the water. It's great that the fishing club does this for us."


Fairfield Harbour Fishing Club plans Take-A-Kid Fishing Day


“One hundred years from now, it will not matter what my bank account was, how big my house was, or what kind of car I drove. But the world may be a little better, because I was important in the life of a child.” -Forest Witcraft


Elmer Stenzel, Bob Bruggeworth and Wayne Massetti founded the Fairfield Harbour Fishing Club in January 2004. The club has grown from 20 original members to 120 plus members. Last fall, Stenzel and Dan Thallman talked about doing something special for kids. The club, in general, did not want to amass a large amount of money. They decided that during the Christmas holiday was not a good time to go fishing. It was decided to arrange for an event during national Take-a-Kid-Fishing weekend. So June 9 was chosen, with June 10 as a rain date for this event.

Bruggeworth explained they wanted a group that would represent kids. Therefore, they chose Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Southeastern North Carolina, which represents more than Craven County, as the organization they would like to work with. The club was then given the names, sizes, height and weight of each participant. This information was needed to make sure they had the correct size life jacket, which they all will have provided for them. In addition, all administrative details have been taken care of.

Stenzel said, “I love this and I am so excited. Every member in our fishing club, which includes about 60 that attend the meetings, is ecstatic about this as well.”

They put up a sign up sheet for those interested in taking part and they had no difficulty in obtaining 20 volunteers. They have many good business and individual sponsors for this event. Bruggeworth said, “I feel great to work with youngsters, some who have never been fishing or even out on a boat. There will be a mix of boys and girls. I think everyone involved in this would love to do something else, like maybe next year, do something for another organization or different kids from BBBS.”

Almost all of those involved have the same feelings about the project. Wayne Massetti expressed they wanted to encourage youngsters to enjoy the outdoors and be able to fish. This was a great way for the fishing club to give something back to the community. Massetti said, “I am glad to do this. We will be able to provide a way for some who would never have the opportunity to enjoy boating and fishing. Our premise is to try to promote fishing and fun. Depending on how this goes we would like to make this an annual event.”

Dan Thallman, one of the two who first brought up this idea, thinks it is a wonderful way to give kids a chance to get on a boat and fish. If they choose not to get on a boat, they will be provided with a prime spot on Spring Creek from where they can fish. Spring Creek is where all of the fish enter the inner harbor. Thallman’s boat was in Swansboro and he saw the BBBS, out of Swansboro, fishing from a big charter boat. He then thought, why couldn’t we do that? Thallman said, “I hope everyone has a good time and I will walk away with good memories.”

The fully equipped boats are all powerboats. They range in size from twenty to twenty-four feet in length. Each boat will have at least one kid, one mentor and the captain aboard. Some of the larger boats may have two kids, two mentors and the captain aboard. In other words, each kid will have his or her mentor with him or her.

To top off fishing all morning, the kids, Big Brother and Big Sisters, and Fishing Club members will meet at Red Sail Park (in Fairfield Harbour) for a barbecue lunch and the awarding of numerous prizes.

It is so rewarding to know that these members take time away from doing what they probably love best, fishing, and contribute so much to other youth. It shows that people in the Harbour and elsewhere in the area really care. They are always looking for a way to give back to the community.

If interested, membership is open to Harbour residents and non-residents, male or females and willing to spend $10 for yearly dues. If interested, call Bob Bruggeworth at 636-2466 or Wayne Massetti at 634-2458 for more details.