Veterans get to wet a line
Guides League first annual event attracts more than 40
LAKE VERMILION- Even though many of the veterans were veteran fishermen, the day spent on the lake courtesy of the Lake Vermilion Guides League was one to remember. Even for an avid fisherman, getting out on the lake when you are older and have mobility issues is difficult.
“We got 18 fish in our boat,” said Jim Charles, Navy veteran and retired game warden with plenty of years of fishing experience, including guiding experience, on his own resume. Charles clearly appreciated the time and effort that had gone into the day, and he was certainly proud of his catch.
Former Tower Legion head Don Reinhardt had nothing but praise for the day, and said the day was as wonderful an experience as his recent Honor Flight trip to Washington, D.C.
“Ray (Berg) and I had a ball out there,” Reinhardt said. “It’s the first time I’ve been out fishing all year.”
Reinhardt is no stranger to the lake, but as he’s gotten older it’s gotten harder and harder to get out fishing.
“They supplied the poles, tackle, and bait,” said Reinhardt. “And they even had snacks for us out on the water.”
By the time the boats returned for lunch, Reinhardt was hungry, and said the lunch provided was terrific. He also complimented the staff of Fortune Bay.
“They were polite and cordial,” he said. “Everyone was so nice.”
Building on their experience running the “Take A Kid Fishing Program” the last five summers, Lake Vermilion Guides League members decided earlier this year to host a fishing day for veterans.
About 45 veterans participated, including senior citizens and those who had been disabled, with representatives from eras ranging from World War II to Afghanistan representing the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. The day was designed to celebrate veterans for their service. Members of the Guides League, along with many volunteer fishing hosts, marked their boats with American flags.
“We are so appreciative of what you have done,” said event co-organizer and Guides League member Phil Bakken.
Thanks to generous support from sponsors, each veteran received a special cap, gift certificates from Village Inn and Fortune Bay, and was entered into drawings for prizes donated by Cabela’s, the Wilderness Golf Course, and more.
Fourteen of the 15 members of the Guides League were able to volunteer for the day. Bakken said one guide had a previously-scheduled booking that day. In addition, the guides league donated $2,500 towards event expenses, which included purchasing caps for all the veterans and volunteers, the cost for the shore lunch, and the and nametag lanyards with pins for all participants. The event cost a bit over $6,000 to put on. In addition, Bakken said, they had over $2,000 in donations for raffle prizes.
The organizing committee was impressed with the showing from the area guides, most of whom could have been out on the lake billing $300 for a four-hour trip.
“We didn’t even have to ask,” said committee member Cathy Rouleau. “They just donated their time.”