Soldiers in transition experience competitive fishing rush

| August 31, 2012 | 0 Comments
Russ Wheeler (left) shows Staff Sgt. Frank Lessary, WTB, PRMC, his tricks of the trade during the Freshwater Team Fishing Tournament on Lake Wilson. Sponsored by local businesses, a church and fishing clubs, more than 50 Soldiers and volunteer skippers participated in the WTB event.

Russ Wheeler (left) shows Staff Sgt. Frank Lessary, WTB, PRMC, his tricks of the trade during the Freshwater Team Fishing Tournament on Lake Wilson. Sponsored by local businesses, a church and fishing clubs, more than 50 Soldiers and volunteer skippers participated in the WTB event.

Story and photos by Maj. Jeff Parker,
8th Theater Sustainment Command Public Affairs

WAHIAWA — More than 50 wounded warriors joined volunteer boat skippers from the local community and participated in a first of its kind Freshwater Team Fishing Tournament on Lake Wilson, here, Aug. 5.

Sponsored by local businesses, churches and fishing clubs, the tournament was also the first of its kind for the Pacific Regional Medical Command’s Warrior Transition Battalion, stationed at Schofield Barracks.

The tournament was organized by Chris Baires, a former Soldier and now a single parent of a toddler, while his active duty wife is deployed.

“Just seeing the sacrifice (my wife) had to make, and the sacrifices a lot of these Soldiers make, made we me want to do something for them,” Baires said.

Skipper James Newton (left) and Pfc. Eric Holden, WTB, PRMC, proudly show their first place plaques at the conclusion of the Freshwater Team Fishing Tournament held on Lake Wilson.

Skipper James Newton (left) and Pfc. Eric Holden, WTB, PRMC, proudly show their first place plaques at the conclusion of the Freshwater Team Fishing Tournament held on Lake Wilson.

Before approaching the WTB with his plan, Baires, a member of the Hawaii Freshwater Fishing Association, presented the idea to his club, along with Imua Wahiawa Freshwater Anglers and other local businesses to solicit interest in sponsoring the event.

“I brought them the idea of the … tournament, with teams, (so) we could make it competitive,” Baires explained. “From what I (could) see, (the Soldiers) loved it. There were some Soldiers who didn’t catch anything, but I think just being out on the water… was great for them.”

Baires’ hard work paid off. After more than three months of planning, Maj. Kirsten Graf, operations officer, WTB, commended the organizers on its success.

“I think the fishing tournament went great,” Graf said. “Some of the Soldiers caught some really decent-sized fish. It seemed that everybody had a great time, and it’s something that we want to make an annual or semiannual event.”

For those who were able to “hanapaa” (or hook a fish), peacock bass was the prize fish. With a lake record of nearly eight pounds, the day’s catches, between three and four pounds, still brought smiles and plenty of excitement.

More than 50 PRMC WTB Soldiers and volunteer skippers assemble for a keepsake photo during the first of its kind Freshwater Team Fishing Tournament on Lake Wilson.

More than 50 PRMC WTB Soldiers and volunteer skippers assemble for a keepsake photo during the first of its kind Freshwater Team Fishing Tournament on Lake Wilson.

“It was a big experience, because that is the first time I’ve done freshwater fishing,” said the WTB’s Sgt. Frank Lessary, a Kalihi native who ended the day with several peacock bass. “I’ve fished in the ocean all my life. Fishing in freshwater … was very fun.”

Other fish commonly found in Lake Wilson’s 300 acres of reservoir include tilapia; bluegill; red devils, which are an invasive cichlid; shad; channel catfish and plecostomus, more commonly known as plecos.

After each team’s fish were counted and weighed, lunch was served courtesy of members of the Wahiawa Christian Church, and then the day’s winners were announced and prizes awarded.

• Tournament Results

Overall 1st Place
Pfc. Eric Holden
Skipper James Newton

Overall 2nd Place
Staff Sgt. Manuel Chavez-Martinez
Staff Sgt. Daniel Moncada
Skipper Lance Saneishi

Overall 3rd Place
Staff Sgt. Frank Lessary
Skipper Russ Wheeler

Side Category 1st Place
Skipper Jeff Choi
Staff Sgt. Eli Gibbs
Spc. Antonio Vera

• Fishing at Lake Wilson

Before heading to Lake Wilson in hopes of reeling in the big one, log on to Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources for licensing information and freshwater fishing regulations at www.hawaii.gov/dlnr/dar/licenses_permits.html.

• Warrior Care

Read more Warrior Care News at www.army.mil/warriorcare; learn more about the Warrior Transition Command at www.wtc.army.mil.

• More Photos

View more photos of PRMC’s WTB participation during the Freshwater Team Fishing Tournament at Lake Wilson at these sites:
www.flickr.com/TriplerAMC, or
www.flickr.com/photos/tripleramc/sets/72157630998003778/.

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Category: Community, Community Relations, Wounded Warriors

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