This month’s W2 Profile features our most senior subject yet. Charles (Charlie) Taylor at 84, remains very actively involved in a fishing club he and friends pioneered many years ago intended to serve beginning anglers. Taylor is a lifelong angler that has seen many innovations in his time. We caught up with him recently to bring you his W2 Profile.
Fishing came to Taylor later than most but when he started at age 40 he never looked back.
“I was a supervisor over all 7-11 stores in Herndon, Reston and Sterling, requiring me to visit each store daily to determine the operation and adherence to policy. While visiting the Sterling Park store one morning, the manager, Rufus Via, told me that I was way too stressed out, needed a hobby and should take up fishing. I was 40 years old and had never had a fishing rod in my hand. I told him that I did not have time for a hobby as I had to work every day. He informed me that anytime I was available, he would take me fishing. I somehow found myself scheduled off on Memorial Day weekend and asked him if the offer still held. He said yes, and I fished with him on one of the many, many trips over the years. He started me off crappie fishing on Broad Run, graduated to tidal creeks off the Potomac River and saltwater fishing on the Chesapeake Bay.
Taylor then began fishing with the Northern Virginia Bassmasters and Occoquan Bassmasters. Next, he bought boats and started guiding on both the upper and tidal Potomac River. Due to his love of brown bass he joined with Dr. Ken Ward and formed the Potomac River Smallmouth Club and subsequently, Lots-A-Luck Bassmasters in Herndon. He eventually left that club and fished a couple of years with Red-Eye Bassmasters in Vienna. Along the way he did lots of saltwater fishing on
Chesapeake Bay during the heyday of the Baltimore bluefish, striped bass and grey trout peaks.
At some point, Taylor knew there had to be more for him than tournament fishing.
“Lots-A-Luck Bassmasters was an attempt to form a club that featured sharing of information, fun and camaraderie. This was quickly put to rest via the ballot box. The first item on their agenda was to change the format of the club back to competition and pricing new anglers out of fishing, leading to my leaving the club.”
After being assured that Red-Eye B/M was different, Taylor joined and fished with them for a year before realizing that they were exactly the same.
“I decided to quit all clubs and just guide and pleasure fish.”
Three friends then approached Taylor and asked him to assist them in forming a new club.
“I agreed to assist them but assured them that I would not be a part of the club.”
After much back and forth, the friends came up with the idea of a club governed by a Board of Directors who had ultimate authority over all decisions regarding direction of such club. The club was formed with By-Laws and Tournament Rules that promoted fun, education and camaraderie. The membership fee was set at $35 per year and tournaments fees were set at $10 per tournament. Only 50% of the tournament fees were returned as prize money, eliminating the desire for cheating and making members more likely to help educate their partners.
One of the requirements of membership was that all members had to share information with the group at weigh-in as to what lures, techniques and patterns led to their tournament catch.
We asked Taylor to note some of the more satisfying moments of his involvement with fishing over the years.
“I loved my involvement with guiding. While guiding the outdoor writer for a midwestern newspaper, he informed me that my storytelling would make me a good outdoor writer and talked with me over a number of months about starting out as an outdoor writer. I subsequently started writing about fishing and boating for the 17 Times community newspapers.
“As space got tight and readers wanted fishing reports, my column changed to a Virginia Fishing Report, covering all major public bodies of water throughout Virginia and saltwater reports covering the Chesapeake Bay and nearby Atlantic Ocean. This report continued for over 40 years before my having to discontinue the report due to lack of available honest, responsible and reliable information.”
Taylor told W2 the other highlight of his fishing life was the formation of New Horizon Bass Anglers Youth Foundation.
“When we started the club, we also decided that we had to give back to the community and get youth involved with fishing. To this end, we formed a Youth Foundation and proceeded to hold a Kid’s Fishing Derby each year, open to all kids under age 16, at no charge.”
“We held our first derby on the Virginia Free Fishing Day in June with 38 kids attending. We quickly learned that school sports were still going on at that time, keeping a lot of kids from attending. The following year, 1992, we decided to add an additional derby in July to capture the kids who were unable to attend the June derby. With the exception of 2020, we have held two derbies at Lake Fairfax Park in Reston each year since. We now plan for 150-325 kids at each event, still free for all.
New Horizon has also entered the arena of area fishing events.
“When we learned of the demise of the longest running fishing show in northern Virginia, we contacted the operator and learned why he was discontinuing the show. The venue had raised the rent to the point where he could not make a profit. After much deliberation, we decided to undertake the show if it were possible as a fundraiser for our Youth Foundation. We came to an agreement with the venue on a much lower rental fee due to our non-profit status and we undertook the operation of the Dale City Flea Market which is now in it’s 26th year. While we don’t make a lot of money from the show, it allows northern Virginia anglers to get together once per year and renew friendships and look over what is new as well as what is old in the way of fishing tackle. It also allows everyone to advertise events, organizations and products.”
We asked Taylor if he had any advice for younger folks reading this trying to balance fishing passion and job duties?
“Family and providing for them always comes first. Hopefully, you can find a job which allows you to spend plenty of time with them and perhaps some of this can be fishing. If so, keep the fishing time as pleasure fishing and not competitive. I always advise fathers and mothers not to take along their fishing gear when taking kids fishing. The outing should be all about the kids. They will remember it forever.”
Taylor also encourages anglers to mentor.
“If it is possible, be a mentor to young people. My partner and I, both being disabled, have been mentoring 17-year-olds for the past four years. Each of these young men have a passion for fishing and we have even involved their families in some of our fishing excursions. Every time we can get a young person on the water and hooked on fishing, we promote responsible behavior that is passed on throughout their peer group. We never know how many other people we touch by mentoring others. Our current young fishing companion has been fishing our Kid’s Fishing Derbies since he was four years old.”