The opportunity to walk on the beach, watch the waves, pick up seashells and go fishing are aspects of our daily lives those of us living on the coast tend to take for granted.
These are day-to-day activities for many of us.
Unfortunately, many people will never have the opportunity to spend the day at the beach.
But thanks to the efforts of the Take A Kid Fishing Foundation and the Swansboro Rotary Club, hundreds of underprivileged children from across the state were able to spend a day enjoying the wonders of the coast.
Now in its 23rd year, TAKF welcomed a group of 650 children and their chaperones on June 21, from orphanages, children’s homes and state and local agencies.
The Swansboro Rotary Club hosted 150 of the children. A handful of the youngsters fished offshore in a head boat from the Nancy Lee Fishing Center, but the majority spent the day fishing from the Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier in Emerald Isle.
At the end of the day the children were treated to a cookout at the Swansboro Rotary Civic Center.
Stukie Payne was in charge of the local delegation, replacing Jim Davis, who generally spearheads the local effort. Davis wasn’t able to attend because of an illness in his family.
Payne said everything came together ideally for a wonderful day of fun and fishing.
“Things went great, the weather was nice, the fishing was good and all the kids appeared to have a good time,” he said. “This was absolutely the politest group of children we’ve ever had. They were very appreciative and well behaved throughout the day.”
Payne added that the local Rotary club takes a lot of pride in its involvement with the TAKF.
“As the Swansboro Rotary Club always does, it finds a way to give back to the community,” he continued. “This is one of the club’s most popular projects, we have limited participation because it’s held during the middle of the work week, but it has 100 percent support.
“The program offers a wonderful opportunity for kids to come spend a day at the coast, having a good time and fishing,” he added. “Many of them wouldn’t have that opportunity if it wasn’t for the Take a Kid Fishing Program and the Swansboro Rotary. You’re just in awe watching the kids having such a good time enjoying themselves.”
The hard work of the Swansboro Rotary Club was certainly appreciated by TAKF Foundation Inc. president and executive director Teresa Holcombe.
“The Swansboro Rotary Club is a wonderful group, we greatly appreciate all their efforts,” she said. “They’ve enabled us to expand the program to the Emerald Isle and Swansboro area.
“The Rotary members not only volunteer to help us on the pier and the head boat, they also allow us to use their civic center for the cookout, buy the food and then cook it for the kids. They work hard throughout the year to raise funds for us and all are very appreciative of all their efforts.”
Little anglers fishing both inshore and offshore were treated to outstanding weather and a strong bite throughout the day. Common catches from the pier included spot, croaker, pinfish, bluefish and even a few sharks and flounder.
Offshore bottom-fishing produced nice catches of sea bass.
One of the anglers fishing on the pier was 12-year-old Rebekah Cassidy, who was ecstatic after catching a pinfish.
“I finally caught a fish from the ocean,” she exclaimed. “I’ve fished in ponds before, but this is the first time I’ve even seen the ocean. I can’t believe how big it is.”
Jared Howeltt was one of the youngsters who fished from the Nancy Lee, and he also had a good time.
“We went real far out to fish and I caught a lot of different fish,” he said. “We caught black bass, croakers and a bunch of other things. I saw some jellyfish and flying fish. It was a really good time.”
The TAKF is Foundation is sponsored by Big Rock Sports out of Morehead City. Big Rock spokesman Tina Henderson was on the pier with the youngsters, and she explained how much the program means to her.
“I always get so excited weeks before the big day, in anticipation of what group of kids I’ll be meeting, whether or not the fish will be biting and what the weather will be like,” she said. “Then the buses pull in and the fun begins.
“Every year I walk the pier after they have been fishing for a while and I get so much pleasure just watching the kids fish and the volunteers standing back and letting them do what they came there to do – enjoy the Take a Kid Fishing program.”