By Jerelyn Craden
Imagine, the pristine destination of Haliburton County with 600 lakes and no fish. Now, imagine the far-reaching negative impact that could have on the Highland’s local economy.
Fortunately, thanks to the members of the volunteer-run organization, the Haliburton Highlands Outdoors Association (HHOA), this isn’t going to happen. The HHOA, who helps with educating the public, raising fish at its fish hatchery, located on Gelert Road, and stocking lakes in Haliburton County, needs to bolster its ranks.
“At one time we had over 400 members,” said Eric Christensen, HHOA secretary and past president. “Now we have over 100. We need a good solid membership base. We have about 40 people who are actively involved on a weekly basis at the hatchery all year round. People get older, they move away, they move into retirement homes, so we’re constantly in need of fresh blood.”
Since 1999, the HHOA, with its fish hatchery has raised and stocked more than 700,000 fish in more than 100 lakes across Haliburton County and surrounding areas.
“We raise 35,000 fish every year,” Christensen said.
Joining the HHOA is all about being able to give back to the community and share that sense of achievement with others.
“The hatchery is a great place to get to meet a lot of really nice people and spend a couple hours once a week with a crew of other people to feed and care for the fish” he said.
HHOA members enjoy the option of joining four clubs: archery, fly fishing, bass, and outdoors. With a healthy focus on youth initiatives and programs – youth, 18 and under, can join HHOA clubs for free.
Other benefits of being a member include a 15 per cent discount off all purchases at the outdoors store, Outdoor Plus in Haliburton, and, will receive a monthly newsletter giving details about where fish are being stocked in the lakes. Kind of an insider’s guide to where to go fishing for the fish.
The HHOA also has a need for volunteers with a diverse set of skills, with possibilities to help with marketing, operations, managing the office and more. Various volunteer committees include: the hatchery crew, fundraiser events, wetlands/outdoor restoration projects, educational programs, and club committees. Popular annual events, which needs volunteers, include: the Wild Game Dinner, Septemberfest, Family Day and Catch the Ace Lottery.
The annual HHOA membership is $40 per year and discounted for members of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters. Join the HHOA and support local fishing by becoming a new member, volunteer or sponsor. Or, simply donate at: www.hhoa.on.ca.