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Virginia Sheriffs' Institute
Supporting Virginia’s Sheriffs & Deputies

By Josh Janney | The Winchester Star
August 28, 2017

Several Winchester Sheriff’s Office employees were armed with fishing rods on Saturday morning for their first “Cops and Bobbers.”

The event, which took place at Wilkins Lake in Jim Barnett Park, was designed to encourage kids up to 14 years old to go outdoors and enjoy the sport of fishing.

More than 20 children attended.

Winchester Sheriff Les Taylor said he tried to host the event last year, but Hurricane Matthew rained on those plans. Taylor was afraid bad weather would strike again this year, but the skies were sunny during the event, with low humidity and temperatures in the 70s.

“It’s a great day for this,” Taylor said. “We were thinking of getting kids outside, away from their video games and phones. Just getting them outside to teach them. Some of these kids have said they went fishing before, but it really is a lost art. People just don’t have time to go out there and fish, but they need to make time for fishing. It’s just a peaceful, entertaining sport.”

Cops and Bobbers also was a chance for youngsters to have a positive interaction with law enforcement officials, Taylor said.

Sgt. Carl Martin, a conservation police officer with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), spoke to the kids about different fish species, laws and regulations related to fishing and the effects of littering on the environment.

Tammi Collins, a Frederick County resident, helped organize the event. She said all of the children were given backpacks filled with bobbers, pens and pencils, bandage holders, cookies, chips, M&Ms, gummy worms and Swedish fish.

“I love to do this kind of stuff,” Collins said. “I love to just be a productive, helpful person, I guess.”

Taylor said the children were instructed to catch and release the fish.

For lunch, the kids ate grilled hamburgers and hot dogs.

“I always like to teach catch and release as much as possible,” Taylor said. “It’s better for the environment.”

VDGIF’s website says that in some cases, releasing fish unharmed is a conservation measure that will help to maintain and build fish populations.

“The goal will be for everyone to catch a fish today,” Martin said. “With fishing comes patience and persistence. That’s why they call it fishing and not ‘catching.’ That’s one of the interesting things about fishing, when you go, you may not know what you catch.”

Christian Charles, 11, said he hadn’t caught anything yet, but he was hopeful. He said his father taught him how to fish.

“It’s a good experience,” Christian said. “If you go in the wild and you didn’t bring any food, fishing is one of your number one priorities. You just get your fishing rod if you brought one and if you didn’t you just make one.”

Tina Gray brought her sons, 8-year-old Jackson and 5-year-old Nathaniel, to the event and said they were telling their friends at school they were very excited to fish with the police.

“I caught one, it jumped off,” Jackson said.

Luke Hubbard came to the event with several of his children. His 8-year-old daughter Nola said she learned that looking at where you are planning to cast your rod helps the fishing line go where you want it to go.

“It would be nice if I could actually catch a fish by now,” Nola said.

Taylor said he hopes to make Cops and Bobbers an annual event.