On a rare warm day in late April, 27 volunteers, 60 participants, and one crayfish named Dennis congregated at scenic Camp Angelos in Corbett, OR. The occasion was the Association of Northwest Steelheaders’ (ANWS) 7th annual Hooked on Family Fishing Day – a day for beginning anglers of diverse ages and backgrounds to come together and celebrate all things fish and fishing.

The event was entirely led by volunteers from ANWS, People of Color Outdoors (POCO), Get Hooked Foundation (GHF), Confluence Environmental Center, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), and Littleleaf Guide Service. Volunteers look forward to this fun day camp every year, a chance to pass on their passion for salmon to the next generation. 

“It was inspiring to see so many people wanting to learn about fishing and so many people willing to teach about fishing. And the setting was beautiful!” said volunteer Joy Broussard. 

Participants at the event came from the communities of Native American Youth and Family Center, Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, Portland Public Schools Department of Indian Education, POCO, and GHF. Many of these families have been returning to the event year after year, reconnecting with friends they made while fishing. 

The event kicked off with families rotating through stations with interactive learning experiences. Out in the sunny field, participants followed the direction of expert fly angler Chris Woods of the Littleleaf Guide Service. Back at the lodge, everyone got a crash course in water safety and knot tying. Down by the Sandy River, kids learned how water quality affects salmon health. They collected, observed, and identified macroinvertebrates like caddisfly larvae and aquatic snails. The star of the station was a petite crayfish, affectionately named Dennis, that brave participants got to hold.

“It was awesome to be a part of this event, to see the joy on kids’ and grown ups’ faces at all stations,” said volunteer Jesse Aguilar.

During lunch, Native Educator Joshua Bruno imparted wisdom, humor, and a connection to the land through stories featuring the traditional character of Coyote. In the afternoon, participants learned about salmon anatomy at a dissection station led by Jon Mueller of ODFW. Finally, everyone expressed their creative side through fish prints, an art activity based on Gyotaku, the traditional Japanese method of printing fish to record their size.

The day wrapped up with participants trying out their new skills by fishing at the stocked trout pond. Everyone went home with the supplies and knowledge to plan their next fishing adventure, including a tackle box, a bag of fishing resources, and rods for each child in the family. These supplies were generously donated by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Angler Education Program.

From the beautiful weather to the new friendships that were made, the day was a resounding success. In the words of one participant, “From start to finish, everyone was so kind, helpful, knowledgeable. Simply put, we had THE BEST time at the Hooked on Family Fishing event.” We couldn’t agree more!

“This was in my top best days ever! We had so much fun and learned so much.”

Hooked on Family Fishing Participant

A big thank you to the following ANWS chapters for donating to the success of this event: Tualatin Valley, Columbia River, Sandy River, and McLoughlin. Thank you to Camp Angelos for hosting, Brian Trout Ranch for stocking the pond, Starbucks for donating coffee, and National Wildlife Federation for donating supplies.

To see even more event photos, click here. To learn more about family fishing events, click here.

Learn more about our work: National Wildlife Federation, Northern Rockies, Prairies and Pacific Region