You may remember last summer reading my article about the annual Fishing for Freedom (FFF) event in Quincy, Ill.
Whether that piece comes to mind or not, I would like to give you an update on the recent 2019 weekend-long celebration for our military warriors.
The spring weather really played havoc with the fishing portion of the 2019 Fishing for Freedom. Rivers at flood stage and beyond, along with lakes and reservoirs that resemble chocolate milk, made fishing very difficult.
But not even a contrary Mother Nature could dampen the spirits of the hundreds of volunteers and military heroes who participated this year.
Besides Quincy, FFF events are also held at Fort Hood, Texas, and Truman Lake in Missouri. This year in Quincy over 100 volunteers, along with 185 volunteer boaters, made sure the 245 veterans had a weekend to remember.
I would like to add that 54 of the boater volunteers were veterans themselves. There were also 45 veterans from the Quincy Veterans and Sailors Home who got to fishing, as well.
The weekend began on Friday with a meet & greet and check-in at the Quincy Eagles Club. On Saturday the tournament at the veterans home was held and lunch was provided.
That night was a highlight of the weekend at the Heroes Banquet at the Oakley-Lindsey Center.
On Sunday the big fishing event took place at a number of different venues. Veterans and guides fished from 6 a.m. ’til noon with weigh-ins at four different locations followed by the awards ceremony.
It was truly humbling to be a part of this emotional weekend.
Last year I was paired with warrior Robert Smith from Richmond, Mo. I was scheduled to fish with a different veteran this year but another guide’s boat had issues and my partner was running late, so Robert and I hooked up again.
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Robert could not wait to tell me that his wife bought him a mega-pack of SWEET TATER PIE wacky worms. He was also very excited to show me photos of the new bass boat he had gotten since we fished together last.
I truly believe the time we spent together during the 2018 FFF event re-energized his passion for fishing. Last year Robert caught 22 bass on Dralle Lake.
My good friend and all-around great human being Bryan Dralle hosts several FFF Warrior anglers at his home and on his two lakes each year.
Bryan’s selflessness, like that of hundreds of other volunteers, not only makes this event happen every year but they also manage to make it bigger and better every time.
Knowing Bryan Dralle as my friend is a true honor.
Robert set a goal for us to beat last year’s 22 bass total. Based upon the conditions with which we had to work, that was a pretty tall order. But with both of us armed with SWEET TATER PIE wacky worms, we were ready for the challenge.
By the time we had set in the boat until Robert had lost feeling in his legs, we had put 31 nice largemouth bass in the boat.
Robert got more excited with every catch and continuously thanked me for giving my time and expertise to help make this another wonderful FFF event for him and his fellow warriors.
We need you to consider helping out in the 2020 Quincy FFF. To volunteer or become a sponsor, contact Quincy FFF through their website — www.fishingforfreedomquincy.com — or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our heroes deserve so much more than we can ever give them. This event is the very least that we can do.
God bless our veterans and God bless America.
(Mike Roux is a member of the Mossy Oak Pro Hunting Staff.)