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Anti-Drug Tournament Draws 511 anglers at Shirley Creek Marina
By Donald Gervais

The shoreline of Shirley Creek Marina, located mid-lake at Lake Sam Rayburn, is normally a tranquil place, dotted with campers and alive with the sounds of birds and motorboats. On Saturday May 8, the marina's shoreline was abuzz as 511 anglers; an equal number of family members and supporters, came together for the 18th Annual East Texas Get Hooked on Fishing - Not Drugs tournament.

Yellow and blue T-shirt-clad youngsters, from pre-school to high school age, took positions on the shoreline and in boats in hopes of for some, catching their first fish and for others catching the fish of a lifetime. The yearly tournament is the pinnacle of a year of effort by the East Texas organization, based in downtown Hemphill. The deep East Texas organization is affiliated with the Future Fishing Foundation, a national organization.

The day started early for the anglers, family members, supporters and volunteer workers on Saturday, May 8 with registration from 7-8 a.m. The official fishing time to wet lines began at 8 a.m. as anglers armed with cane poles and fishing poles began enticing fish of any size and specie to take the offerings. The anglers of this tournament fished as hard as anglers of any professional tournament, however unlike the tournaments that most anglers compete in, this one had nothing but winners when the 2 p.m. fishing time came around.

At the award ceremony at 3 p.m. Kenny Isaacks, executive director of East Texas Get Hooked on Fishing - Not Drugs welcomed the anglers, family and supporters and then read a message from Texas Governor Rick Perry.

"To the young Texans present, you are the Lone Star State's most precious resource, and I enthusiastically applaud your commitment to say "no" to drugs," read the governor's message. "It is a promise that will help you achieve your goals, and it is a promise of which we are all proud."
The message went on to thank all those that made the program possible and Governor Perry commended those responsible "for honoring the values our society holds dear."

The governor's message of making the choice and achieving personal goals was made clear at the Friday evening rally, BBQ dinner and auction. At the very first tournament in 1986 a young boy, Nick Davis, participated. Davis had since graduated from high school, joined the U.S. Army, married and had been sent to Iraq. During the soldier's time in Iraq, his unit captured Sadamm Hussain and he had a son born. Davis was present and an honored guest at the Friday event. Davis credited Get Hooked on Fishing - Not Drugs program in helping him make the decision to say "no."

Rebecca Harvey was emcee at the Friday gala. KPG, a contemporary Christian rock group provided song and light displays. KPG has written a song for the anti-drug organization, which according to Isaacks will become the organization's theme song.

According to Isaacks, the primary objectives of the program are to: provide positive alternatives to alcohol and drug use; promote public awareness of the effort to help kids have these better alternatives; encourage and challenge youth to set high goals and have high ideals in life; provide clean role models from different walks of life to speak at participating schools and to crusade to motivate youth to stay drug and alcohol free.

In addition the organization strives to incorporate the program at participating schools by conducting essay and poster contests on the "Get Hooked on Fishing - Not Drugs" theme. Last but not least the group tries to give the youth as many fishing related products as possible to help them use fishing as an alternative to drugs.

At the tournament finale, winners of this year's poster and essay contest were awarded their prizes. Each had spent the day fishing with a professional angler, part of the award package. On stage they received trophies, a letter from Governor Perry and gift certificates for a Ranger Boat Company jacket. The grand prizewinners were: 7th grader Amanda Wise, from Etoile, poster; 12th grader Ian McDonald from Chireno, essay; 8th grader Kevin Burks from Chireno, poster; 8th grader Ines Smith from Etoile, essay; 11th grader Sarah Gallger from Martinsville, essay and 8th grader Jane Drahem from Martinsville, poster.

This year the anti-drug organization worked closely with three deep East Texas school districts; Etoile, Martinsville and Chireno. Various guest speakers, including members of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Service and members of the Forestry Service, visited the students.

"It's all about the kids," said Isaacks. "They are all winners. Without he sponsors and volunteers this could not happen. I thank them, all the volunteers, teachers and students who made this year so successful."

Words of appreciation for the kid's participation came from a spokesperson for the Preslar family, owners and operators Shirley Creek Marina.

"Get Hooked on Fishing is our most favorite of all tournaments that we have experienced here," said the spokesperson. "We are very impressed with the leadership and dedication of all the volunteers."
Isaacs is assisted by his wife, Tina, who is the program chairperson for the educational/anti-drug organization. They with the help of Becky Barnett, man the organization's headquarters, Monday thru Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The office telephone is 409-787-2863. Their email is: hookedonfishing@sabinenet.com

National sponsors of this year's Deep East Texas Get Hooked on Fishing - Not Drugs included: Ranger Boats, Yamaha, Zebco, Daiwa, Berkley, Plano, TruTurn, Gator Clips, Wal-Mart, Pilgrim's Pride and Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits. Locally, more than 65 businesses, organizations and individual participated in making the program possible.


This young angler sits patiently waiting for a bite at the Hooked on Fishing - Not Drugs annual fishing tournament on May 8 at Shirley Creek Marina. The young angler fished after the grand award ceremony, waiting for that one bite. Photo by Donald Gervais

Members of the "First-Ever Fish Caught" club compare the size of their catch at the final ceremony of the 18th Annual Hooked on Fishing - Not Drugs tournament on May 8 at Shirley Creek Marina, Lake Sam Rayburn. Photo by Donald Gervais

One of several groups of award winners proudly display their trophies and awards at the anti-drug tournament held May 8. Awards were presented for most fish and biggest fish.
Photo by Donald Gervais

Rebecca Harvey, left, announces the names of the award winners in one of the younger categories of the 18th annual youth tournament. Photo by Donald Gervais

Proud winners dsiplay their awards. More than 500 youth participated in the 2004 Hooked on Fishing - Not Drugs tournament. The program reaches to youth in East Texas to help them choose to say "No" to drugs. Photo by Donald Gervais

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