Samantha Gay is a Technology Assistant at Greene County Intermediate School in Snow Hill, and students there have always loved hearing her talk about fishing, one of her favorite hobbies. She loves telling those fishing tales, but could never quite put into words what fishing was all about, and when she learned that many of the kids had never been fishing before, she realized what she had to do. 

“When I was teaching, my students knew I liked to fish, and would ask me all the time about fishing, so I thought it would be good to show them,” Gay said. 

She took them fishing. She did the same thing this year, on May 10, and she wants to turn the Fishers of Kids Anglers Academy into a yearly event. Judging from the participation by the kids, and from the many volunteers and tackle companies that donated time, products, advice, and other help, that’s not going to be a problem.

Last year’s event involved two small classes of kids, but she knew that wasn’t going to cut it this year. The interest had increased dramatically. 

Gay has made friends within the fishing community over the past few years by attending fishing functions, and getting to know other anglers she’s met while fishing. Those contacts were a big help in putting on this year’s event.

The generous offer from a private pond owner, and donations from fishing companies like 412 Bait Company, Rat-L-Trap, Livingston Lures, Cashion Fishing Rods, Z-Man Lures, Shakespeare, Blues Brothers Guide Service, Berkley, Jase Outdoors, Neuse River Bait and Tackle, and many others, allowed every kid to have their own tackle to fish with. 

And once the fishing was over, the kids took those products home with them. And while some of these kids did not even own a fishing rod before, they now have everything they need to continue fishing, and as everyone knows, kids are the future of fishing.

It takes more than rods, reels, and lures to get kids involved in fishing, and thankfully, Gay’s many fishing friends were just as eager to help out with that as well. Volunteers from all across the Tarheel State, as well as South Carolina, Virginia, and as far away as Pennsylvania came to help show kids how to tie fishing knots, what lures to use for certain fish, how to cast, and the other basics of fishing.

As is often the case in events like this, it was those volunteers who appreciated the opportunity at least as much as the kids did. Donald Corbett, founder of 412 Bait Company and a member of the Jackson Kayak Fishing Team was just one of the many folks that helped Gay make the day possible.

“There’s no need to thank me. If anything, I should be thanking all of you for the experience of a lifetime,” said Corbett, who drove down from Pennsylvania with several Jackson Kayaks, and helped kids throughout the day learn to paddle and fish.

To Gay, the folks like Corbett were a bigger help than they’ll ever know.

“This would not have been possible without the help of a lot of people. I could not have done this on my own, and I can’t thank everyone enough. Just seeing the way this event has touched these kids makes it all worth while,” said Gay.