Fishing Tournament For Veterans Honors Their Service
The waves were rocking and Leech Lake was full of veterans enjoying a day of fishing – the Fifth Annual Take A Vet Fishing Tournament was in full effect.
“A lot of them never get a chance to do this,” said U.S. Marine Corps Veteran and Event Organizer Bob Landreville. “I think a lot of people they feel like they get forgotten about a lot of times and I just want them to come and have an enjoyable day.”
Joe Ourada spent seven years in the Army as a staff sergeant. It was a family affair for him as he was there with his children.
“I’ve been wanting to do this for a good, long time and finally been able to take some time off and do it,” said Ourada.
In its first year 30 veterans participated, and that number has grown to almost 70 this year. It’s a reason veterans keep coming back year after year.
“The camaraderie, the guys, the guides that volunteer their time,” said Landreville. “Some of these guys have been fishing together for five years now.”
Some veterans have a difficult time transitioning into life after service, but fishing is used as an outlet.
“We don’t like to do other things with a lot of people and it’s a healthy activity,” said Veteran Aaron Jensen of the Minnesota Department of Veteran Affairs.
Community support means everything to these veterans such as first time participant Dennis Holzinger, who served 21 years in the Navy.
‘There’s nothing more honorable than serving your country,” said Holzinger. “There’s nothing more important than the payback the community can give to their veterans.”
“A fishing for vets function where we can honor these vets, get them in a boat, get them to enjoy the beautiful waters of Leech Lake, like what we experienced today is what it’s all about,” said Drew Arnold of Trapper’s Landing.
No one walks away empty handed. Prizes include hunting cameras and coolers. The top prize of custom fishing rods and cash goes to the veteran with the biggest catch.
And what a catch. You can expect next year’s tournament to be bigger and better.