Salmon Sunrise over Lake Michigan

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Port Washington is located on the western shore of Lake Michigan and is one of the most popular great lakes fishing destinations. Therefore, it has been an ideal location for the United Special Sportsman Alliance (USSA) to hold an annual group fishing event for children with disabilities and life-threatening illnesses.

On June 18th, before sunrise, nineteen families boarded twenty-one boats with their Captains and first mates. Many of the children had never been on a boat, so they were excited yet curious about what they would experience during their first time fishing on the beautiful waters of Lake Michigan.

8-year-old Kaleb’s mother, Amy, said, “Kaleb was fishing with Captain Mark Schmidt when his reel started to scream, signaling a big fish had grabbed his lure! His reaction was priceless; he kept saying, “it’s gonna be a big one, it’s gonna be a real big one!” Watching his little hands reel that fishing pole bend under the weight of the catch, trying to get it in the boat was precious. Once he got the fish into the boat, he was the happiest kid ever!!!! That was the biggest fish he had ever caught! It was a coho salmon and weighed 5lbs 7oz and 25inches long. The best thing in life is seeing your kid doing something they love; this is the happiest he’s been in a long time.”

Jessie’s mom Julie added, “The weather was less than ideal, windy with choppy waves, but our Captain Glen Elbertson was beyond hospitable and accommodating and helped myself and my children stay warm and comfortable. The sunrise and the views from the lake were spectacular. My children were lucky enough to pull in two coho salmon, which the Captain cleaned and packaged for us to take home. Jesse and his siblings had an epic adventure weekend and have been raving about it since we got home. My family made lifelong memories that we will always cherish!”

His father Dennis said, “At first, Johnathan was apprehensive about people understanding him and if he would have fun and make friends. But, seeing other kids with disabilities made my son feel like a regular kid without hesitation.” After a fish struck a lure, Captain Alex Knobel coached Johnathan on how to reel the fish in, then took the rod out of the rod holder and gave it to the young man. Johnathan reeled the strong fish in on his own while using the proper technique! They netted the salmon and brought it into the boat. The young man was beside himself, happy because of the accomplishment he shared with his parents and Captain. Then, with a huge smile, Johnathan exclaimed, “This was the best weekend I have had in a long time.”

Much gratitude to Terry Placek, USSA’s event coordinator, Captains, and volunteer staff, for their dedication and hard work in making this a five-star event. Also, the Port Washington Yach Club and Port Washington Lions Club for providing their facility and meals. Special thanks to SCI Wisconsin Chapter Big AL Fund and the Random Lake Rod & Gun Club for their continued financial support. God bless!

If you know of a deserving child or veteran who might want to attend a free fishing or hunting trip, please contact United Special Sportsman Alliance.