Veterans paired with pro-anglers to do a bit of fishing earlier this week on Table Rock Lake.
The Bass Pro Shops Fishing Dreams Series, which began nearly a decade ago, held its third annual series for disabled veterans at Big Cedar Lodge Nov. 7. About 20 local veterans attended and were paired with professional fishermen.
Before casting off to the lake, newly re-elected congressman Billy Long spoke with the group and thanked them for their service. In 2016, Long’s office became a partner in the project with an emphasis to increase awareness of disabled veterans in local communities, according to Fishing Dreams Series Director Jessica Hayes.
Veteran Larry Ellingsworth, of Rogersville, was among the group of veterans hoping to catch some bass.
“This is just good to be here,” Ellingsworth said. “I’m glad I can be here to do this.”
Ellingsworth served in the Military Police from 1971-73. He said he hasn’t been able to fish for quite some time, but was grateful to on Wednesday.
“The freedoms to be able to do this – there’s a lot of people who fought for this,” Ellingsworth said.
Veteran Kirk Richardson said he served from 1966-70 and “ducked a lot.” He was paired with Brandon Durr, a Bass Pro sponsored fisherman.
Durr said being a part of the event is special.
“It gives us a chance to give back to these fine gentlemen who have spent time fighting for our freedoms to do what we want to do,” Durr said.
Although Richardson said he’s never had much luck fishing in “big water” like Table Rock Lake, he said he always has a good time fishing.
With clear skies, the novice and expert fishermen left the docks and headed out to try their luck at finding some fish. After about two hours, the group was treated to lunch and music at the lodge.
Although he didn’t catch anything that day, Ellingsworth said he was glad to attend.
“It was tough out there, but it was fun,” Ellingsworth said. “I enjoy fishing. I just don’t have time to go that much. I forgot how much I do enjoy it until I came down here today.”