Dan Hernandez: Taking fishing to the streets

  • Listen to an interview with Dan Hernandez this Saturday at 6 a.m. ET on
    "The Outdoors Show on ESPN Radio," then watch him later Saturday at 11 a.m. ET
    on ESPN2's BassCenter. To find the ESPN Radio affiliate in your area, click here.

    Listen to a clip from Dan Hernandez's May 13 interview on ESPN Radio.

    Introduced to the sport of fishing by his father when he was three years old, Dan Hernandez has ridden that humble introductory wave to a career as a Southern California angling icon.

    Best known for his outdoor writing, photography and television-broadcasting skills, the 46-year-old Hernandez now annually fishes freshwater and saltwater venues all across California and Mexico, not to mention taking yearly adventurous angling journeys from Alaska to South America.

    Despite all of that however, what Hernandez wants to be remembered for most is taking the sport of fishing back to the streets of southern California, near where he grew up.

    To that end, Hernandez is very much a man on a mission to introduce fishing to children who have never had the opportunity to wet a line and feel a fish pull back.

    "I like fishing," Hernandez said. "Fishing has been very good to me. Because of fishing, I have a very blessed life and now I can give back."

    And give back is exactly what the 46-year old Hernandez is doing through his
    Daniel Hernandez Youth Foundation, an organization that has spearheaded a number of highly successful, kid-oriented urban fishing events and ocean fishing trips in the Los Angeles area.

    Because of that work, Hernandez will be featured this Bass Saturday on ESPN2's BassCenter at 11 a.m. ET. Prior to that, Hernandez will be interviewed by Tommy Sanders on the coast-to-coast "Outdoors Show on ESPN Radio" beginning at 6 a.m. ET.

    Lest you think that such work is merely another facet of a successful and highly visible angling career in Southern California, think again.

    Fact is that Hernandez, who has been on the air broadcasting for some 17 years, has been working with kids for the past 15 years.

    Finally, in 2001, he decided to take that work to the next level, organizing his foundation and starting organized fishing events in the Southern California region.

    "Our first lake event was five or six years ago," Hernandez said. "The only volunteers we had were me, my mom and my dad, my buddy Larry, and a couple of other friends from a fishing club — that was it."

    Somehow, that small group managed to get the job done despite the fact that nearly 200 energetic and enthusiastic kids showed up.

    Since that inaugural event, Hernandez and others have put on a growing number of kid-oriented fishing events.

    From two such urban fishing events that first year, his Foundation expects to put on six such events this year that will reach as many as 300 to 400 kids each time.

    And that's not to even mention the half-day ocean fishing trips off the California coastline for as many as 45 to 50 kids.

    One key difference from the early events until now is the amazing army of volunteers, financial contributors, and corporate sponsors who help Hernandez and company pull off such events.

    "One of the gentlemen that we work with is Dr. Ray Morales of the Blue Cross California Foundation," Hernandez said. "When he experienced his first ocean event, he wanted to go from three trips last year (to more than 20 this year)."

    To that end, with two trips already previously scheduled, such enthusiastic support now has the Daniel Hernandez Youth Foundation with 26 such trips on the calendar for 2006!

    Hernandez is quick to point out however that it isn't just corporate or foundation level sponsorships that make his organization successful in introducing thousands of Southern California youth to angling.

    "One guy who has been to just about every one of our lake events is Terry Randall, a man who owns Art's Tackle in Gardenia, Calif.," Hernandez said. "In our early years, we didn't have enough money for prizes, so he would dig into his own pocket to help buy prizes.

    "Even today, he still dips into his pocket to purchase (rods and reels for us to give away at these events)."

    To this day, two of Hernandez's most enthusiastic helpers remain the two people responsible for his birth and upbringing — his mom and dad.

    "When I was a kid, I remember coming home and going inside our house and there were my parents with a bunch of other parents having Little League meetings, coaches meetings, and PTA meetings," he said.

    "I was raised seeing that kind of activity all the time. I thought it was normal to give back to the community and to be active in things like the PTA or church."

    Following in the tracks that his parents carefully laid down, Hernandez enthusiastically gives back to the So Cal area by working with entities like the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, the Los Angeles Housing Authority, and others to put on the ever popular urban fishing events.

    "Our lake things are real important," Hernandez said. "To fill an urban lake area like MacArthur Park with 400 or 500 people who want to go fishing, one thing we've noticed is that all of the gangs and drug dealers tend to stay away.

    "It's so cool to see all of these families coming out there to fish."

    He says that oftentimes, these events will bring single moms who are eager for positive male role models like Hernandez to build outdoor skills, knot tying, fishing knowledge and the likes into their little boy's lives.

    That's something that Hernandez willingly embraces.

    "I hear all of the big sports guys and celebrities say 'I don't want to be a role model,'" he said.

    "I have no problem in being a role model."

    For scores of Southern California kids being introduced to the joys of angling, that's exactly what Dan Hernandez is — a role model, a teacher, and someone who can point them to a lifetime of fishing fun.

  • To learn more about Dan Hernandez, visit his Web site.

  • Click here to learn more about "The Outdoors Show on ESPN Radio." And to find the ESPN Radio affiliate in your area, click here.