Great memories made on the Great Lakes

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Located on the western coast of Lake Michigan, Port Washington is a popular spot for fishing enthusiasts. The United Special Sportsman Alliance (USSA) has found it to be the perfect location for its annual group fishing event for children with disabilities and life-threatening illnesses.

Before sunrise on June 18, 2023, twelve families, captains, and first mates set off from the dock on calm water and ideal temperature. Although some children had never been on a boat or fished before, they were full of excitement and anticipation and were eager to learn.

Wyatt, Olivia, their mother, Charlotte, and Captain Luke were already in the boat by 4 AM. They caught their first coho salmon by 4:30 AM and caught two kings and six more coho salmon. The kids had a great time but were exhausted by the end of the day from all the reeling, as most lines were 400 feet behind the boat and at depths of 150 feet.

Julianna, the mother of Faithlynn and Katelynn, expressed her appreciation for their wonderful experience. She was grateful for the exciting and enjoyable time they had as a family. Her eldest daughter beaming with joy, and her youngest daughter showing a keen interest in everything from the boat to the fishing equipment made the trip even more memorable. Catching her first fish was a thrilling experience for Katelynn. Captain Alex and first mate were kind and accommodating, which made their trip a success.

Captain Charlie, Gail, and their family departed from the dock at 5:00 AM and headed south. We began fishing in 90 ft. of water while trolling southeast. They had an immediate catch of fish, with Lucian assisting his younger siblings in catching some of the bigger fish, such as the 22 lbs. king caught by Silk. The entire family, including the children and mother, took turns reeling in fish, and we took some pictures around 9:30 AM before we began cleaning the fish. While cleaning and pulling lines, we caught four more fish, including two more kings, bringing our total to 22 fish in the cooler with 29 bites. They had to purchase a larger cooler to accommodate all the fillets they took home.

Branyan had an enjoyable time using Captain Eric’s big fishing rods. After thirty minutes of reeling, he caught a magnificent 25-pound king salmon. Spending Father’s Day weekend with his dad, Tim, and catching ten fish made for an eventful and memorable time.

Julie, the mother of Olivia, said, “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for this amazing fishing trip with Captain John. It was a learning adventure and an opportunity to experience the land and sea God gave us, family, unity, and the kindness of others’ passions and generosity. It was an experience we will cherish forever.”

Christine expressed how much her son, Will, enjoyed the fishing trip and found Captain Nick and Rachel friendly and accommodating. Will was excited to be on the boat, and they understood when he didn’t want to handle the fish, which he appreciated. Will also mentioned that the activity was an excellent workout for his hands and arms. As a mother, seeing her son so happy made Christine grateful, and she thanked everyone involved in the trip for their kindness and acceptance.

According to Jazmin’s father, Alex, their Captain Jim, and his wife Andrea provided a fantastic experience that made her feel safe and comfortable. Jazmin had her first fishing lesson with Captain Jim, who patiently taught her how to cast using her new fishing pole. Andrea provided valuable support as she reeled in her first fish. The experience was memorable for Jazmim, yet she expressed sadness at the thought of not seeing Jim and Andrea again. Jazmin’s joy and love were heartwarming, and everyone on their boat will cherish the memories.

Sara expressed, “Liam was exhausted from a short night’s sleep, and the rocking boat put him to sleep for approximately two hours. With Captain Dale’s encouragement, Bill and I took advantage of this time to relax, get excited about catching fish, and spend time on the water, knowing that Liam was safe and resting.”

Tracy, the mother of Evan and Carter, expressed that they had an incredible experience and gained valuable knowledge about “REEL Great Lakes fishing.” She was fascinated by the factors affecting optimal fish bite conditions. Tracy and her sons thank Captain Mark for the opportunity and will always treasure their shared memories.

Kaleb’s father, Leroy, said his son had a wonderful time fishing with Captain Craig and his first mate. Kaleb was thrilled to catch the fish he did and loved being on the boat. He even said it was one of the best experiences of his life, and wants to go back. Leroy expressed gratitude for the opportunity and mentioned that Kaleb is now willing to try the salmon he caught, even though he’s never eaten fish.

Kay, Aiden’s mother, was extremely grateful for the incredible fishing trip with Captain Rob. Aiden and Dave had a fantastic experience, enjoying a beautiful day while reeling in some impressive king and coho salmon. Aiden has been smiling ever since! Kay also mentioned that grilling the coho for Father’s Day dinner was the perfect way to end a fantastic weekend.

Yesenia said joyfully, “We were blessed to be part of an amazing fishing event, which was a wonderful experience for our family. Nathaniel was especially excited to learn how to fish and be on the boat with Captain Dale. Seeing his joy and pride when they caught the first big fish was priceless, and he kept saying, “We can do this,” and “I love fishing!”

We want to thank Matt Birno, the event coordinator, and Andrea Feucht for their exceptional work organizing the event. We extend our gratitude to the captains, first mates, and volunteers whose commitment and efforts resulted in the success of this top-notch event. Additionally, we are grateful to the Port Washington Yacht Club, Port Washington Lions Club, Inventors Brewpub, and Legion Post Port Washington for their hospitality and meal service. We also want to thank the Random Lake Rod & Gun Club and other donors for their continued financial support.

Congratulation to all the families, captains, and first mates who have achieved an exceptional catch and created unforgettable memories; well done! 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.