Anglers Giving Back
By Alex Garoutte
There is more to being a tournament angler than just fishing. A question I ask myself quite often is: “If this has become such a passion for me, why wouldn’t I want to share it with others?” There are many kids and adults who have never had the opportunity to experience the thrill of bass fishing, especially those with disabilities. I recently had the opportunity of helping at two major events here in Missouri, helping and giving those with disabilities the chance to fish and spend time on the water.
The first event was at a camp for kids with Muscular Dystrophy on Lake of the Ozarks. While there we gave the kids rides in a pontoon boat. One of the coolest things I encountered was the kids that have been going to this camp for a while telling each other that this was one of the things they looked forward to most during the summer. The joy I saw in the kids’ eyes simply sitting back and enjoying the time they got riding out on the water was the most fun to watch. I also drove by the pontoon in a Nitro Z21 acting as a barrier between the pontoon and other boats on the water. With every wave that the pontoon would hit from my driving around a shriek of excitement and laughter would sound. Even after their second or third time on the pontoon they just seemed to not get enough of it.
The second event I helped with was a Fishing Dreams event at Big Cedar Lodge on Table Rock Lake. We paired up each special needs child with a pro who would run a pontoon and help a kid bait and take fish off the hook. The kids that were able to cast on their own were given a rod and taught how to use it. Those who could not cast on their own sat at a casting chair that was secured at the front of the pontoon. While watching the kids react to the bounce of their rod tip from a bite it reminded me of when I would get a bite in a tournament. When they would feel the bite their eyes would get big, their grins would begin to grow, and they would slowly start leaning forward anticipating the hookset. They then would set the hook and begin to reel the fish in and I could hear the excitement in their voice. After landing their fish they would hold it high and shout with joy.
When it comes full circle, and we begin to ask why we are fishing? Is it just to win tournaments or is there something more? As tournament anglers we get to experience an amazing sport that has ignited a passion for many of us. Why don’t we share that passion with others that may never get to experience the thrill of a great catch?
Alex Garoutte – Facebook Fishing Page