The Virginia Beach Bluewater Fishing Club (VBBFC) has a long and rich history. While the name has changed a few times during our history, our purpose and focus did not. Originally founded as the Virginia Bluewater Gamefish Association (VBGA), our goal was to promote conservation of pelagic species and educate members about offshore fishing. Although billfish were plentiful here in the offshore waters, catching them was often difficult due to lack of experience. The old Association, under the leadership of Bob Hutchinson and Steve Humis, combined their enthusiasm, experience and the willingness of all the members to help each other catch fish. Through these activities and associations, our members developed into some of the best marlin fisherman on the east coast.
The VBGA thrived during the 1970s and 80s hosting two annual offshore tournaments, held a fall oyster roast and encouraged family participation by hosting fishing contests for kids. In the late 1980s however, participation waned until members led by Ray Temple re-focused activities and brought the club back stronger than ever. The late Dr. Jim Wright, a local sportfishing icon, on his own initiative and resources held casting contests for local kids. Joined then by Leslie Creech, they developed a program to educate kids about the dangers of drug use and to offer fishing as a healthy alternative. This effort has grown into the current Hooked On Fishing Not On Drugs Program.
In 1995 the VBGA was reorganized and incorporated as the Virginia Beach Billfish Foundation under the leadership of Ray Mangus and Jim Ingham. The club continued the traditions of conservation, education, offshore fishing and support of HOF-NOD. As the HOF-NOD program grew, so did the need for additional resources. In 1999 the club held the first annual Tux and Tails Gala to raise funds for this worthwhile program. In 2000 the club formed HOF-NOD into a 501(c) corporation to administer the program and resources separately from the other club activities. HOF-NOD provides opportunities for Virginia Beach and Norfolk middle schools to experience fishing as a safe and enjoyable alternative to drugs. To date over 2500 children have participated in the program.
Today, the Virginia Beach Bluewater Fishing Club (VBBFC) is the product of that rich history, dedication to education, sportsmanship, and stewardship of our youth and fishing resources.
The club continues to support conservation and received national recognition from the Billfish Foundation as the number two club worldwide for billfish releases. That noteworthy success was achieved mainly through the efforts of Bill Van Buren and Captain Tommy Powell. Members Bill Gooch, founder of the past Red, White and Blue Tournament along with member Bob Stephens were the driving forces behind the development of the Certified Observers Program. This program provides trained observers to Release Tournaments and those tournaments with Release-only divisions. The Certified Observers Program was so successful that it is now under the auspices of the IGFA.