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NE Ohio couple works to make fishing accessible to all kids through non-profit, book and new comic strip

Duo wrote 'Learn to Fish: A Step-By-Step Guide for Beginning Anglers'
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Posted at 6:42 AM, Oct 17, 2023

BEREA, Ohio — It's a hook, line and sinker situation in the best way possible for one Northeast Ohio couple.

They're working to make fishing and the outdoors fun for kids of all ages.

They aim to enrich lives and inspire through their non-profit.

This go-around—they're getting creative with a comic strip dedicated to the craft in a Cleveland area online publication.

It boils down to accessibility and education for The Fishing Foundation.

Kids and adults, for that matter, are always on their phones and tablets.

This foundation takes them away from their traditional environment and into nature.

The moment Dennis Knowles and Gail Grizzell cast a line into the water, they are immediately at peace.

Fishing at Berea's beautiful Coe Lake has become their true personal oasis.

"There's something special about it. That it really builds bridges and bands you together," Dennis Knowles, President of the Fishing Foundation, said.

Sporting their branded fishing shirts, the longtime Northeast Ohio couple is on a mission to support and help the next generation of anglers.

Both picked up the skills at a young age, but they quickly realized many children in marginalized communities did not have the opportunity or ability to fish.

"As a child, we would go to Milwaukee with the family every summer and spend time with my Uncle Ulysses, and he would take the kids fishing," Knowles said.

"At age two, I distinctively remember my Mom gave me a pole with a bobber and she threw it out for me," Gail Grizzell, Co-Founder of the Fishing Foundation, said.

They started the non-profit The Fishing Foundation back in 2010.

The goal was to take youth from under-served communities into green and blue environments where they could learn skills that would last a lifetime.

At the end of each session—each child gets to take home their own rod and line.

"We teach kids how to cast, we teach them about fish identification, water safety," Knowles said.

"It's important to be good stewards of the environment and to think about other forms of activity," Grizzell said.

As the non-profit gained steam, they realized they could reach an even larger audience by creating a book.

Together they authored "Learn to Fish: A Step-By-Step Guide for Beginning Anglers".

It's illustrated by Jamie Sale.

Each chapter offers tricks and tips to thrive on the water, from guidelines on essential equipment to the best places to land a catch.

There's also a cast of cartoon characters that look very familiar.

"I feel like I'm seeing double. Can you elaborate?"

The couple as well as Grizzles' mom and Knowles' uncle are also featured in the book.

Those same characters can now be found in their new comic strip called "Hooked."

It can be found in the online publication "Signal Cleveland"—and further showcases the diverse cast of characters who formed a fishing club in Cleveland.

They navigate the sport through humor, adventure, and education.

There's always a lesson to be learned.

"We want people to see that we can do it, and in our book and in the comic book the characters we have diversity so the children can see themselves," Knowles said.

To support their mission, check out their website here.

Their book is available for purchase online and at area bookstores.

You can check out their comic strip in Signal Cleveland each month here.