This was the Fishing for Fun photo contest winner. Photo by Marla Temoin

Fishing for Fun comes to the Comox Valley

Organizer Dave Kozakowski was inspired to set up program by one in Nanaimo

Last year, Dave Kozakowski came into some fishing gear he wanted to donate.

He put a post on Facebook looking for ideas on what to do, and someone suggested a program in Nanaimo called the Vancouver Island Fishing for Fun Society. He got in touch with the founder Mike Lawrence about picking up the gear, ideally to give to kids.

Kozakowski was inspired to transfer the idea to the Comox Valley, to encourage more kids and their families to take up the sport.

“I find that kids that have a hobby stay out of trouble,” he says.

He has an extensive background in beach fishing, in both fly and gear fishing for salmon, though he recommends kids should learn fly fishing a little later on.

“Gear rods, anyone can do it,” he says.

He has been a Scout leader for years and volunteers at a couple of local hatcheries, so the program seemed like a natural.

When he met Lawrence in the middle of 2019, he found out more about the Nanaimo-based group and how it works.

“The conversation started there, and I sat and thought about it, and thought about it,” he says.

Then he decided he should bring the program up Island.

“Right now, it’s going to be Comox Valley,” he says, though he adds he might look at the Campbell River area in the future.

Through the program in this area, Kozakowski wants to take donations of fishing gear, as well as look for ideas to encourage fishing through derbies and other events, with the aim of keeping things fun. He also hopes to run draws for gear throughout the year.

He likens the program to rod and gun clubs for kids.

“They come in, kids can fish,” he says.

Already, he has run a fishing photo contest on his Facebook page for the group and found some outside people as judges to avoid any conflict of interest. The winner was submitted by Marla Temoin and received a gift card from Gone Fishin’ in Courtenay.

“I can’t be viewed as being biased,” he laughs, adding, “I actually really like that picture.”

He sees other opportunities such as donating gear to the visitor info centre that users can borrow on an honour system, but he is still in the early stages of planning. He is looking for local partnerships, but has been impressed with local support so far, especially from businesses like Gone Fishin’, which will donate rods for the coming year, or Cliff’s Chinook Charters, which saw his post and offered a fishing charter for a local family

“There’s been great public support,” he says.

READ MORE: Comox Valley fishing charters feel pinch of restrictions

He would like to find more volunteers for Fishing for Fun, and he is also lining up gear to donate to families interested in fishing that might have a real need.

“Going into the future, we’re going to need more of those donations,” he adds.

Anyone interested in interested in volunteering, donating gear or getting involved with the fun, should check out the Fishing for Fun Comox Valley Facebook page.

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