Aug. 4—EAST LYME — For one local fishing company, the catch of the day is always giving back to the community.
That's exactly what Blackhawk Sport Fishing in Niantic did Tuesday night when owner and captain Greg Dubrule donated a fishing trip to Boy Scout Troops 15 and 1017 of Tolland.
The price of admission for the scouts was a non-perishable food donation which Dubrule donated to the Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Center in New London.
"Just giving back, that's all," Dubrule said. "This is my 56th year in this business. The business has been very good to me over the years. Just trying to give back whenever we can."
"We told them they gotta give back like Greg's giving back to the community," said David Carlson, who has organized many similar trips for veterans and other groups.
Dubrule's daughter Heather Harris is in charge of the "Blackhawk in the Community" program, which focuses on getting the next generation of fishers involved in the sport and in the community.
"We have such a unique opportunity to be able to do good things," Harris said.
Harris said Blackhawk fishing has donated "hundreds and hundreds" of fishing trips to groups through silent auctions, basket raffles and group fundraisers. Most recently, they held an underwear drive for a community partner who reached out for help. Harris said within four hours of posting the fundraiser on Facebook, there were people at the business with donations.
"We should do that because we can and we're so fortunate," she said.
Blackhawk has previously donated trips to groups of military veterans with the help of Carlson. When Dubrule told Carlson he wanted to get more kids involved in fishing, Carlson reached out to some Scout troops.
Tolland Scouts BSA Troop 1017's Scout Master Cheryl Constantine called Scouts, "an organization that is creating the next generation, and generations, of leaders out there," and explained how the trip was a "perfect" way to get youth interested in a different outdoor activity.
"It's good for them," added Don Corne, an assistant Scout Master with both Troop 15 and 1017. "It teaches them citizenship, leadership."
While Dubrule "fears" where the recreational fishing industry is heading with today's youth so involved with electronics and the Internet, the Scouts proved him wrong Tuesday.
While playing cards on the four-mile ride out to the fishing spot, a group of Scouts from Troop 15 talked about their favorite parts of fishing.
Ryker Lavallee said he loves the "satisfaction of catching a fish," even if he wants to be an engineer when he grows up. His brother, Barrick, said he likes the "fight" with each catch.
"You gotta reel it in or else it's lost," Barrick explained.
Their other brother, Tayton, said he most enjoys "the surprise" with each catch, while their father and chaperone, Nathan, really likes how fishing requires "some patience" from each Scout.
These Scouts align with the Blackhawk's Mini Mate Program, which brings younger kids aboard to learn the ins and outs of the business.
After 17-year-old deck mate Morgan Whittaker taught the Scouts how to bait their hooks and cast their lines, the Scouts were off and fishing. Parents and Scout masters were there as helping hands, along with the staff of mates, to help unhook fish, add more bait and untangle line as needed.
Quintin Gill, a 13-year-old Scout with Troop 15, caught two fish in the first 10 minutes. He finished the day with 10 catches, even if he chalked up the first two to "luck."
Fellow 13-year-old Shiobhan Harkins of Troop 1017 was reeling in porgies with her father, Stu, who said his daughter is "hooked for life" on fishing. She would also hit the double-digit mark in catches on the day.
The troops returned back to shore will coolers full of filleted porgies and a sea bass after more than three hours on the water. The group of 40 fishermen and women thanked their captain for his donation, as he thanked them for the two cars full of food they donated.
Carlson left the group with a parting message.
"I hope you learned one thing from this trip: give back to your community."