-- Back in 1974 Southern California angler Gary Walker and a couple of friends made their first excursion to the Bridgeport area with the objective of testing their skill on the local trout population. Today the annual first week in June outing is no longer just a handful of friends, but has become a tradition for close to 100 anglers from five western states in the form of the Fishin’ Mission Foundation.
The foundation is a different animal than most angling organizations. Rather than spending all their time on the water, they have expanded to involvement with the local community.
“There’s more to experiencing the local scene than catching trout,” said Walker. “We’ve always had a great time in the Bridgeport area. The locals have been great and the hospitality outstanding. We’ve decided it’s time for us to show our appreciation to the community.”
“Since our founding, we’ve donated more than $25,00 to state and national charities. We’ve decided to become more actively involved in the local scene with projects to help met community needs.”
“In a small town there's a lot of community projects that need help. Funding resources are limited to a small population (Bridgeport’s has just 500 residents) and not all the needs are met Most of these projects aren’t just for the benefit of the locals, they benefit everybody visiting the area.”
The Fishin’ Mission has also taken on a local resident and friend as a board member to further ensure they are in touch with the community. Jim Reid, owner/operator of Ken’s Sporting Goods, is actively involved with the group.
“I’ve known these guys for years and it’s exciting to see them get more involved with the community,” said Reid. “I’ll be able to identify the local projects where they may be able to help.”
Last year saw the Fishin' Mission take on their first off the water project. The organization provided two $1,000 scholarships to graduating seniors at the Eastern Sierra Academy with its student population of just 25.
“It’s a great bunch of guys,” said Academy Principal Roger Yost. There’s a lot of enthusiasm and energy and they really care about our area. It’s great to see a group like this from outside our area take an interest in the local community.It’s really special.
This year the foundation has identified several new goals regarding their “community service” efforts. They hope to expand the scholarship program and have made contact with the Bridgeport Fishing Enhancement Foundation regarding local projects
In addition, they are planning a “green day” cleaning up the banks of the East Walker River during their annual visit.
The Fishin’ Mission Foundation is recognized as a non profit corporation. For more information contact www.fishin-mission-foundation.org