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CNB FISHING NEWS: Hooked on Fishing – Not on Drugs



HOFNOD Coordinator Honored With Award

Hooked on Fishing-Not on Drugs Podcast with Liz Jackson (DEP Website)

NJ Hooked On Fishing Logo

New Jersey’s Hooked on Fishing-Not on Drugs Program provides a great opportunity to get kids involved in positive recreational activities. Growing up in a big city, my parents saw value in having me spend my summers outdoors enjoying nature. These experiences afforded me the chance to discover that there is more to the world and my role in it than what the concrete jungle has to offer. Likewise, this program aims to introduce youth to the fun and excitement of fishing, and to engage them in meaningful life skills, so that they can also imagine unlimited possibilities for themselves.
– Liz Jackson, HOFNOD Coordinator

Liz Jackson and son fishing


Fishing is an activity that can be started at any age by any person regardless of gender, physical size or athletic ability. Fishing can also be enjoyed individually or with family and friends. A great way to introduce youth to fishing is through the “Hooked on Fishing – Not on Drugs” (HOFNOD) Program.

“Hooked on Fishing – Not on Drugs” is a unique, nationally recognized program created by the Future Fisherman Foundation. In 2012, former Governor Christie signed legislation establishing the statewide implementation of the HOFNOD program. The legislation provided initial funding through an appropriation of $200,000 from the state’s Drug Enforcement and Demand Reduction Fund. (See below for the identical State Assembly and Senate bills.)

The goal of New Jersey’s program is to encourage school-aged children to avoid tobacco, drug and alcohol use by providing alternative activities involving learning to fish, appreciating aquatic and environmental resources, and developing positive life skills. The program will provide students with access to extracurricular outlets that utilize New Jersey’s incredible outdoor recreational assets.

The NJDEP Fish & Wildlife wants to partner with schools, community- and faith-based youth organizations willing to provide on-going and sustained engagement in HOFNOD activities throughout the year. The “Hooked on Fishing – Not on Drugs” program is flexible enough to be offered in different ways, such as:

  • a weekly enrichment activity in summer youth programs
  • an on-going educational physical education activity in after school settings
  • integrated into grades 4-12 school curricula
  • as a year-round supplemental activity of community-based youth organizations (e.g. Youth Corps, Boys/Girls Clubs and faith-based entities)

HOFNOD is an excellent way for young people to participate in constructive recreation and to develop a positive sense of self-worth. The program helps:

  • nurture self-esteem and confidence
  • develop higher order critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • reveal alternate activities for young people instead of the pitfalls of drug and alcohol use
  • foster opportunities and build skills to explore freshwater & marine careers

During the program, students learn:

  • freshwater and marine ecosystems
  • proper outdoor ethics and being a good steward of their local environment
  • respect for themselves, others and the world around them
  • how, when and where to fish
  • life skills like preparing and cooking their catch

Sussex County Castaways enjoy striper fishing on the Mi-Jo out of Atlantic Highlands.
Sussex County Castaways enjoy striper fishing on the Mi-Jo out of Atlantic Highlands.

Adult-led lessons provide students with hands-on, real life experience and incorporate peer teaching and mentoring in the process. Guest experts can be used to teach supplemental sessions like fly tying and casting, spearfishing, introduction to SCUBA diving, kayaking and boating safety. Available funding through the HOFNOD program may be used to offset the cost of staff training & materials, fishing and program gear, and transportation for youth fishing trips.

Another activity HOFNOD teams can participate in is the Youth Fishing Challenge, which is typically held on the first weekend in June. Registered youth participants are eligible to receive prizes for the fish they catch during the event.

The core message of the “Hooked on Fishing – Not on Drugs” program is that you don’t need to use tobacco, alcohol or drugs to have fun! It’s the type of program that not only will help reduce drug and alcohol use in youth, but will also bring families closer together by giving them an inexpensive outdoor recreation activity they can all participate in.

For more information call 908-637-4125 ext. 122 or e-mail