Catching Catfish and Creating Memories

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Eight USSA families gathered at YMCA Camp Cha-La-Kee to embark on a world-class fishing trip on Lake Guntersville in northeastern Alabama. They eagerly anticipated a day of fishing with their anglers, who generously donated their time and expertise for this unforgettable experience.

On Saturday morning, after having breakfast, the excited families joined their anglers and set out on the beautiful waters of Alabama’s largest lake. Lydia said, “Jake’s first excitement came when he saw the boat. It was camouflaged all over and had a covering on the top front part of the boat. It glided through the water, going faster than he had ever experienced, and he was all grins.”

The action began with a massive catch as Khloie, only 13 years old, successfully caught a 47-pound catfish. Cedric Poyner said, “As she began to reel it in, I remember her saying, “This is hard!!!” I told her that’s because it’s a big fish!” Later in the afternoon, Khloie caught one more, and her brothers caught two fish each, while their mom landed a 38-pound catfish totaling seven fish.

With great enthusiasm, Andrea shared that her son Jacob and their angler, Jonathan Long, caught a giant 64-pound blue catfish. In addition, Sean, his dad, and fellow anglers Scott and Julie Lovelace caught a 44-pound blue catfish. The experience was enjoyable for all, and her boys had a fantastic time.

Maximo, a veteran of the Army, and his family experienced their first fishing trip on a boat. They caught seven fish, and the biggest catfish weighed 40 pounds. “His daughter, Bella, made the best catch of the day,” said Kevin Breedlove. As the fish approached the boat and she saw it for the first time on top of the water, she said excitedly, “Oh my gosh, a catfish!” Then, after they pulled the catfish into the boat with the net, she turned around and gave her mom a high five. Maximo commented, “My family had such a great weekend together catfish fishing, and my daughter really enjoyed herself.”

Dinah explained, “To reel in the fish, his guide JR, had to move the fishing pole to the side of the boat so James could sit down to get enough strength, then he worked hard reeling it in. He was able to catch four fish that weighed between 20 and 45 pounds.” She mentioned that her son enjoyed relaxing on the boat and catching fish, considering it the highlight of the trip.

Jake’s mom Lydia said, “When the fish took the bait, and Jake began to reel it in, I don’t think he knew how big that fish would be. He reeled until the fish got to the back of the boat, and then his fishermen Jarrett and Josh helped him get it in the boat. They told him to sit down and placed his huge 30-plus pound catfish in his lap to hold. He was genuinely amazed at that fish! Then later caught two more 30-pound catfish. Reeling in these fish was an exciting challenge for him. The fish were fighting very strongly, trying to get away, but he held the rod and worked hard to bring them to the boat.”

We want to express our gratitude to the following anglers who helped make these fantastic fishing trips possible for the families; Betty Stahl, Jonathan Long, Bob Brooks, Cedric Poyner, Scott & Julie Lovelace, Kevin & Rodger Breedlove, Chris Parker, JR Hall, Jarrett & Josh Williams. Also, Donnie and Lonnie Fountain generously donated the fishing rods. We thank Joe Davis and his team for their unwavering commitment and hard work. We also appreciate the exceptional support provided by the YMCA Camp Cha-La-Kee.

Congratulations to all the families who caught fish enjoyed each other’s company and made beautiful memories. God bless!

If you want to get involved or know of a deserving youth or veteran who would like a wish granted, don’t hesitate to contact United Special Sportsman Alliance.