Outreach Program Mission Statement:
To impact the local community and develop positive relationships with diverse groups through fishing experiences.
2019 Outreach Events, Volunteers, and a Record
Number of Anglers Participating. During 2019, Outreach held 21 events (two of which were re-scheduled due to weather or staffing conflicts) with only two planned outings cancelled. For the 2019 season, 26 volunteers participated in Outreach.
Finally, in 2019 we had approximately 390 anglers participate in our program, including 321 on-site at Lake Atagahi and 70 at off-site casting camps.
Volunteer Participation—Trending the Numbers. In 2018 we hosted 19 events with 317 participants. That year, we had 23 volunteers. In 2017 we hosted 18 events with 320 participants and 25 Fishing Club volunteers. In 2016 we hosted 16 events with 229 participants and 28 volunteers.
Trends in the Overall
Catch. The fish feeder at Lake Atagahi was installed circa May 2016, and there has been an upward trend in each season’s catch as shown in the table below:
|Season||# Anglers*||Total Catch||Catch/Angler|
*No. of anglers for all years does not include Fish-a-Rama and for 2019 does not include Casting Camps.
Interestingly, at Lake Atagahi during this time bass increased from 12% of the total catch (15 bass caught) to 23% of the catch (64 bass caught).
Recap of Core Outreach Program Elements.
In addition to experienced mentors, the program provides our guest anglers with equipment, bait (including artificial bait), and the opportunity to have their lunch at the Pavilion. School-age kids from Transylvania County are given colorful, trucker-style caps. To help participants let off steam after a morning spent patiently fishing, we maintain an inventory of sports equipment—basketballs, soccer balls, volleyballs and frisbees. We also keep emergency ponchos and mylar blankets on hand and always have sunscreen, bug repellant, and first aid supplies available.
New for 2019.
Ahead of their scheduled fishing events at Lake Atagahi, Outreach volunteers went to the Boys & Girls Club and TVS to hold casting camps on their campuses. This familiarized them with the equipment and improved their casting technique. Using a combination of hula hoops and plant stakes to support them, we constructed targets for them to practice casting.
Friday Night Fishing. Monsoon weather forced us to re-schedule the Black Mountain Home for Youth, with the only possible replacement date a Friday evening. Fishing Club and Outreach provided pizza, watermelon, and home-baked cookies. We had a great turnout of both youth and volunteers, beautiful weather, and everyone had a tremendous time.
Cap Colors. To supplement our neon yellow caps from last year, we introduced blue and neon pink. Blue was a favorite with both boys and girls, and both boys and girls also selected pink caps.
Transylvania Vocational Services (TVS)—May 9
Contact: Suzanne Byers, (w) 884-3195 (c) 828-577-0997
This was our first casting camp held on the lawn at TVS. This new challenge seemed to be enjoyed by all, including some of the 15 participants who had been difficult in past visits to Atagahi.
Transylvania Vocational Services (TVS) May 15
Ten anglers came to Lake Atagahi, but as is common with this group some did not fish and just enjoyed being outside. The
catch was eight brim, and three trout.
Transylvania Vocational Services (TVS)—May 24
It was an unusually hot day for Spring and was also the first time we had to set
up a cooling station. A total of 13 anglers participated, and despite rather poor fishing, they persevered. The catch was two trout, one bass, and one brim. All in all a successful outing. Just being in Connestee’s natural surroundings seems to impart a sense of well-being to these folks.
Black Mountain Home for Children—May 31
Contact: Dan Windmiller, (w) 828-686 3006,(c) 828-216-5007,
also Trent Ledbetter (c) 828-273-4107
Two buses arrived and disgorged 25 kids and three chaperones on a beautiful Friday
evening. More had wanted to come but were grounded for disciplinary reasons. If
everyone had been on their best behavior, we would have had more than 30 kids,
and we received feedback that this has become one of the most popular outings for the kids from the Black Mountain Home.
Fishing Club provided pizzas, which were delivered from the Clubhouse. John & Ellie
Kratt cut up and served watermelon. These kids were keen and really wanted to
be kids. They did a good job doing some illicit swimming with lots of whooping
and laughing but managed to be well-behaved. Their chaperones do a fabulous job, but to have these kids board the buses to go home in dry clothes was a pipe dream. All boarded the buses with to-go packages of Nick and Cheryl’s homemade cookies. Hats were distributed, and they left at 7:45 p.m. having caught a respectable 20 brim, 7 bass, 2 trout and one yellow perch.
Transylvania Vocational Services (TVS) June 6
We hosted our second Casting Camp at TVS with close to 20 participants.
Transylvania Vocational Services (TVS) June 12
On an unusually cool morning, seven anglers and two chaperones arrived. Fishing
was pretty dismal with a catch of one bass and two brim. They had afternoon activities and were a little chilled, so they did not stay for lunch.
Contact: Nonnie Cullipher, Learning Manager, (w) 862-5554 (c) 553-4703
We dodged a weather bullet. At around 9:30, 30 kids and 7 chaperones arrived in a cavalcade of Chevy Suburbans. George took new anglers aside to give them an introduction. We also spent some time with Nonnie, explaining how the program works. As always a great group of budding astrophysicists from around the world, this year
including the Arab Emirates, India, South Korea, Poland, and Russia (including one from Siberia). PARI hosts and teaches these gifted kids from the Duke University TIP program.
Many of these kids chose not to use live worms so rubber worms to the rescue. Kids were serious about their fishing, resulting in a catch of 29 brim, 4 bass, and one perch. They lunched in the Pavilion and afterwards played enthusiastic games of basketball,
volleyball and soccer. Neither t-shirts or hats are given out at these events due to the fact that the participants are not Transylvania residents.
As usual we have to thank Frank and Marian Wolf for their set-up work and bringing donuts. Coffee was provided free by Nancy Roberts from the Clubhouse. Like other Fish-a-Ramas, folks drift in at all times of the morning. We had 25 registrants and many camp followers—fewer than last year, and we should probably return to scheduling the event Fathers’ Day weekend.
Thirty-one fish were landed, including brim, bass and one catfish measuring 26 inches, which was reeled in by angler Beckham Tibstra, who was competing in the 1-6 age group.
Again thanks to the Wolfs and Ray Tuers’ skill as a grillmaster, a free hot dog lunch was served with plenty of soda to wash it down. Winners were awarded certificates and t shirts during the lunch.
Meridian Behavioral Health—June 25
Contact: Rebecca Freeman, Meridian
Behavioral Health, 828-885-6607,
Four kids attended from both the elementary and the middle schools. These kids have behavioral issues and find concentrating difficult. They caught 4 brim, enjoyed their hats, and lunched in the Pavilion. After lunch they played with our sports equipment before heading off for a hike in DuPont State Park.
Sheriff’s Shield Camp—June 26
Client Contact: Lt. Greg Stroup, (w) 884 3168, (c) 553-9825
Greg Stroup and Desiree Abram with eight other Sheriff’s Department personnel
arrived from their new permanent camp in Pisgah Forest. Twenty-six enthusiastic, well-behaved kids (to be expected when accompanied by 10 sheriffs) fished with us. Some needed orientation but most were competent anglers.
We ended up catching 24 brim and 8 bass. We distributed hats, but they did not eat
in the Pavilion this year. They went back to their new camp base for lunch prepared by staff at the County jail.
Boys & Girls Club—June 28
Jamie Atkinson, Operations Director, (w) 885-7800, (c) 864-205-1474
We took our Casting Camp to the Boys and Girls Club campus. We were honored to
have a recovering Bill Roehrich as a volunteer. Bill was great with the kids
and had them casting accurately and using the equipment properly. This really
paid dividends when they came to Connestee later in the season.
It was extremely hot, and one of the kids said to wilting Nick Revill & Carol
Marines, “I could stay here doing this all day.” Maybe he could, but the
volunteers certainly could not. We cycled through approximately 36 kids.
Boys & Girls Club—July 3 (see above)
Sixteen kids came up with two chaperones, one being the assistant executive director, Sarah St. Marie, who wanted to see what we did. They were joined by four young women and their father, who were very excited to fish. Tim Brown provided detailed instruction. Another hot day meant that the cooling station was essential, for the kids, chaperones and volunteers. All were very well behaved.
They caught 24 brim and 5 bass. They ate lunch in the Pavilion and made a lot of use of our sports equipment before hopping on the bus and returning to Gallimore Road.
Boys & Girls Club—July 10 (see above)
Twelve kids with two chaperones. Once again the weather Gods left us alone, and we
enjoyed a rain and lightning-free session. All of these fifth and sixth graders had fishing experience. This age group tends not to be calm, but these kids really applied themselves. Lunch was in the Pavilion, where we gave out hats before the kids let off steam with basketballs and soccer balls.The catchwas 12 brim and 2 bass.
Thirty-two kids came in the SUV parade. This group. was younger than most of our PARI groups, some only 14 years old. They were accompanied by 4 chaperones. George mentored those with no experience, and then we let them loose. One young woman was worm averse, so we fixed her up with a rubber worm rig, but having seen those around her catching fish, she relented and tried a night crawler, which resulted in her catching the first fish of her life. Perhaps because of the age, this group was less focused than what we have come to expect from the Duke/TIP kids. Half of the group left early and went up to the park to play ball. They ended up catching 10 brim and 5 bass and lunched in the Pavilion.
Boys & Girls Club—July 17 (see above)
Twenty kids and two chaperones. Fishing was slow on this super-humid day, but there
were no thunderstorms. With only 8 brim and 2 bass caught, the heat won the day, as the kids decided that paddling and playing was much more entertaining than fishing. We distributed hats, and they ate lunch in the Pavilion.
Boys & Girls Club—July 24 (see above)
Eleven kids participated on a beautiful cool summer day. These were teen-agers who
really wanted to impress one another. But despite that and going through worms
at a rapid clip, we managed to land 9 brim, 8 bass, and 1 trout. As usual, lunch in the Pavilion, where hats were given out.
PARI—July 11 (see above)
Thirty kids came with the usual four chaperones. We learned that this would be our last time hosting this group, as the folks at Duke had decided to discontinue all of their off-campus offerings. It’s sad to lose this group of students but listening to their comments, “It’s so beautiful here,” “this place inspires me,” and “I can’t stop looking at the shoreline,” was rewarding nonetheless.
Fishing was not great, with a total catch of 11 brim and 6 bass. The PARI staff and some of the volunteers had lunch together in the Pavilion, and we said our final goodbyes.
Boys & Girls Club—July 31 (see above)
Thirteen club members led by chaperone Courtney arrived. It was a bit of a damp day, and for the first time this season we gave out ponchos. The catch was 10 brim and 4 bass, and they stayed for lunch in the Pavilion. Because I forgot the caps that morning, we delivered them to the Boys and Girls Club campus in the afternoon.
Bound for Glory Literacy Camp—August 8
Wendy Adair, (c) 828-508-2254, husband, Scott Adair, (c) 828-508-2145
At this camp, volunteers help kids with problems reading and writing. We always
enjoy this group. They are amongst the most financially deprived members of our
community, mostly being raised by single grandmothers. The Fishing Club
Outreach program has formally become community partners with this group, and we
have entered into a memorandum of agreement.
Twelve kids came after lunch at about 1:15 (they are tutored in the morning). This was
a successful outing. The kids enjoyed fishing and playing ball and were very happy with their hats. They caught 9 brim and 4 bass.
Meridian Behavioral Health—August 13
Ten middle-schoolers with anger management issues combined fishing with time outs. Excessive heat probably contributed to crankiness, but the kids got to be outside and were very verbal. They had a good time. Chaperone Rebecca told the volunteers that the kids calm down when they visit our lakes. Two brim and 3 bass were caught.
4-H Club/County Extension—August 20
Contact: Mary Arnaudin, (w) 844-3109 (c) 828-553-9776
Mary Arnaudin came up with 12 4-hers. The weather was decent. The catch was mediocre with 8 brim and 1 crappie. The good news was that the crappie, at 11.5”, was a lunker. Al Byrne made a certificate, which we framed and delivered to the boy’s grandfather, who is one of our Connestee maintenance staff.
Special Olympics—September 7
Contact: Marian Wolf, 885-2430
Frank and Marian Wolf provided early coffee and doughnuts. John and Ellie Kratt came
with homemade scones. And Ted Migues kept everyone’s fingers sticky with watermelon. It was a hot and sunny day, so we set up a cooling station. This event typically has an elastic start time. Anglers wander in throughout the morning accompanied by chaperones and family members, so that by lunchtime we have a pretty full Pavilion. We ended up with 55-65 folks eating lunch.
Fishing was not good with a total of 8 brim and 4 bass. However, one young lady, who
often comes up empty, was one of the successful fisher-people, and that put a big smile on her face.
Frank and Marian have the catering down to a science, with a snack and sandwich
assembly line. Despite a poor catch, most folks seemed to leave happy.
Thank you to the 2019 Season Outreach Volunteers:
Jim Bailey Joe McMurray
Chris Brown Beth McMurray
Tim Brown Ted Migues
Wes Davidson Bob Mowery
Gillian Hillman Myron Pstrak
Kevin Henebry Nick Revill
George Hewertson Bill Roehrich
Rick Hybil Steve Seelinger
Cheryl Inghram Ken Stark
Ellie Kratt Ray Tuers
John Kratt Frank Wolf
Buddy Marines Marian Wolf