Bob Meder of the Bass Club said this was the eighth year their club had been involved with the project.
The event was the brain child of (then) Lt. Col. Tom Tomey, who conceived the idea nine years ago to take wounded soldiers, who were receiving treatment and recovering from injuries, fishing for a day.
Since that time, the event has spread to other areas of Texas and to other states as well.
Lured by a beautiful poster seeming to promise peaceful blue waters and large lunkers, 32 soldiers signed up to fish in the competition. Only 19 were ultimately able to be released to ride the bus down to Choke Canyon Lake. Their enjoyment was contagious.
The Quality Bass Club is the main sponsor of the tournament, but they receive help from others in the form of donations, volunteers and fishermen willing to use their boats to host a soldier.
Sowell’s BBQ in Three Rivers donated the barbecued meat. Boaters came from all around-some from Arizona with pontoon boats, some from the Dallas area. The main financial supporter is the Non-Conmissioned Officer’s Association (NCOA.) Valero was represented by many volunteers who helped prepare the meals and whatever was needed to be done. One local woman, Annie Mae Geffert, was there to lend a hand and moral support.
Much work goes into the planning each year. “We begin planning next year’s event as soon as this one is over!” she smiled. The event is close to the club members’ hearts.
Many of the attendees caught no fish at all, but all had a fish tale or two to tell.
They were ushered up a lane of fluttering American flags to the weigh-in station. Then they took a short ride to the pavilion for lunch.
After the meal was consumed, the raffle began. Prizes ranging from a plastic worm assortment to thermos bottles, and even a Yeti cooler, were awarded.
Then, the moment for which all had waited arrived, the results of the weigh-in.
Christopher Boyd won the award for biggest bass. He caught a beauty weighing 2.68 lbs.
Justin Glenn won for the biggest catfish and the most weight overall. He accomplished what most anglers only hope to achieve. He caught five yellow catfish each weighing over 30 lbs. The largest was just over 32 lbs.
The winners were given rods and reels courtesy of Pure Fishing, represented by Bob Lala. Rods were given for various reasons. The smallest fish was caught by Clay Stockton, whose catch, it was claimed, was smaller than the bait they used.
Two ‘lady soldiers’ were honored and claimed rods.
Specialist Wesley Parrish received a rod for the telling of the best ‘one that got away’ tale.
After a group picture was taken, the tired but happy soldiers boarded the bus for the trip back to San Antonio and the real world.
The memory of the beautiful day on the water should help them through the remainder of their hospital stays.
We should all join the sentiments expressed by the Best Western Hotel in George West and say, ‘Thank you, Wounded Warriors, for your service.’