Youths from communities within Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn’s 15th District got the hang of deep sea fishing earlier this summer during a trip hosted by Marina del Rey Anglers (MDRA).

The youngsters boarded the Betty-O out of Marina del Rey and immediately knew they were in for a good time, according to the anglers. They were intrigued by the dead squid and live sardines swimming in the bait tank, were thrilled watching the hungry sea gulls and pelicans hovering for a meal, and laughed at the loud sea lions basking on the Marina breakwater, anglers said.

Each of the young anglers caught a fish on the trip but every fish was carefully released back into the ocean.

While many of the youths had been fishing before, some had never been on a boat and some had never seen the Pacific Ocean, anglers said.

Hahn’s staff organized and scheduled the youngsters from several nonprofit children’s groups in the 15th District, including the Watts Gang Task Force, the Watts Grief Counseling Center and other agencies.

The trip concept was suggested at a meeting in Marina del Rey between Hahn’s staff and Larry Brown, a director with Marina del Rey Anglers. Hahn’s staff said the office was looking for ways to immerse kids from District 15 into safe, healthy, outdoor and alternative experiences.

Brown proposed programs such as the anglers’ youth fishing program.

“We are a nonprofit organization whose long term mission has been to take kids fishing,” said MDRA President Ken Raymond.

Jeff Morris of the anglers’ youth fishing program said, “Our goal is to host about 800 to 1,000 children from at-risk communities on half-day ocean fishing trips every year.”

Program representatives say that the trips are a great way for kids to experience the wonders of the ocean and take them out of the stress and realities of their environments. On each trip, the children are accompanied by four or five MDRA club members who serve as mentors, teaching the basics of ocean fishing and marine conservation.

Community service organizations such as Boys & Girls Clubs, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, LAPD Activity League, LA Sheriffs Youth Groups, churches, city and county youth shelters and others are invited to send 25 to 35 children on one of the trips. The group also hosts kids from the Braille Institute and Mychal’s Learning Center.

For further information about MDRA or the MDRA youth fishing program, Larry Brown at (310) 578-2288, or lmbrownxx@earthlink.net/.

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