(Editor's Note: The FLW Foundation connects youths to their natural resources and promotes education, conservation and an active lifestyle. An FLW Foundation Unified Fishing Derby is hosted at every FLW Tour stop and many Costa FLW Series events, allowing youths nationwide to experience the joys of fishing. Visit FLWFishing.com/foundation for additional information.)
They say everything is bigger in Texas, and when it comes to the fishing community that couldn’t be more true. The Lake Travis FLW Tour event was an amazing tournament. The people were great all week and really came out to support the event. You can always tell when you’re in a true fishing town. Every gas station or store that you stop in knows what you are looking for, everyone is sincerely interested in how the fish are biting and of course they all want to give you hints on where to find the winning fish. One of the coolest things about these communities is their love for the sport and the importance they place on passing that love down to their children.
Last season the FLW Foundation began hosting Unified Fishing Derbies (both intellectually disabled and non-intellectually disabled) at all FLW Tour events. It was a great start to the program. The FLW Foundation is all about getting kids out and in touch with their natural resources, and we were fortunate enough to make that happen at every event. It was great to see people catching the first and/or largest fish of their lives at these events. Although the 2016 season was a great start to the program, we definitely want to continue to grow and improve. After all, isn’t that the goal with everything?
If you followed along during the week on FLW Live, you know there are a TON of fish in Lake Travis, which is exactly what you want for a fishing derby. We knew this would be a great event judging from the number of pre-registrations we received, which I believe was somewhere in the 50-participant range. What we weren’t expecting was a RECORD TURNOUT, but that is exactly what greeted us Saturday morning. The weather was great, and the local people really showed out by bringing 103 youngsters and Special Olympic athletes to fish with us. It was a busy morning running around weighing fish and helping bait hooks, but the experience was definitely worth every bit of work. There is nothing better than seeing kids get pumped up about catching fish, then raising trophies above their heads on the FLW main stage with huge smiles on their faces.
We couldn’t be more excited to see this program growing. With these record turnouts and expansion into the Costa FLW Series, the future is very bright for the FLW Foundation and the traveling Unified Fishing Derbies. We really couldn’t do a lot of these things without several key supporters. Jackson Kayak and Orion Coolers donate a brand new kayak and cooler to the FLW Foundation booth at every event. Both are raffled off over the weekend, which helps raise money for the program. DMF Baits and Kid Casters also help in a huge way. Because of their support, we are able to get kids equipped to go fishing for FREE. Frosch Outdoor and Adventure Travel also came through in a huge way this year by organizing a cruise that is exclusive to FLW members. When members book this cruise they are actually going to be giving back to the foundation as well. You can check that out online here.
Thank you once more to all the families that have brought kids and athletes out to fish with us, to the families that will be coming out and to the thousands of people that have participated in our raffle. Our next event is at the Harris Chain of Lakes in Florida, and we look forward to another record-setting derby.