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Freedom Fish gives veterans opportunity to get out on the water

Fishing competition held for veterans

Freedom Fish gives veterans...

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - We are a week away from Freedom Fest, but a fishing competition that honors veterans got this year's celebration started a little early.

For the second year, Freedom Fest is honored veterans with its Freedom Fish event. 

The fishing competition gave veterans a chance to get out on the water while honoring those who have served our country.

Brian Schultz ,a proud Air Force Veteran, enjoys fishing.

"You don't need cellphones. You don’t need anything but a rod and reel and the commodore of the person you are fishing with,” Schultz said.

Schultz is on one of 29 teams at the competition.

"We decided to get a bunch of bass fishermen together today,” said Nick O’Keefe, an event organizer. “Everybody takes a vet out and we run the same tournament like we normally do, but everybody has a vet. Get these guys out on the water."

Similar to Freedom Fest, the event honors everyone who has served in the military.

"Weekend after weekend, we all go fishing. The reason we can go fishing is because these guys have fought for our freedoms. This is just a big thank you,” O’Keefe said.

Veterans young and old had the chance to relax on the waters of the Mississippi River.

"Many of these vets have ever had the opportunity to experience this. So to get them out here on the water, show them what we do, race around a little, hopefully flap some fish in the boat, it's just a great opportunity for everybody,” O’Keefe said.

Although Schultz is an experienced fisherman, he knows the competition isn't about winning.

"It's about the commodore of all the veterans here and enjoying the day,” Schultz said.

With events like these, organizers and veterans alike say it's a small thing but can have a big impact on our community.

"It's a simple thing we can do to get them out on the water, say thanks and just have a great day,” O’Keefe said.

"Every year, it becomes more and more evident that the local communities and the regional areas are trying to do as much as they can for the veterans,” Schultz said.

The teams had their final weigh-in Sunday afternoon.

In addition to the event, every veteran attending Sunday’s event received free tickets to next week's Freedom Fest.

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