Twenty Boats Set Sail at Dawn From the Port Washington Marina

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The United Special Sportsmen Alliance (USSA) hosted its 19th annual Great Lakes fishing trip in Port Washington, Wisconsin. Twenty families from three states participated in the event. The night before the fishing trip, everyone enjoyed a delicious dinner with their captains at the Port Washington Yacht Club. They all received fishing rods, tackle boxes, T-shirts, and snacks for the boat. You could sense the anticipation in the room as the captains briefed their families on what to expect during their fishing trip.

Twenty dedicated captains and their beautiful families set sail from the dock at dawn on Lake Michigan, where the tranquil water and temperature provided ideal conditions. Most families had never gone Great Lakes fishing before and were excited and eager to soak up the knowledge they would learn from their Captain.

Bennet’s mother, Kelli, shared, “We had a lot of success catching fish with Captain Noah Caminata, but to be honest, even if we hadn’t caught a single fish, we would have been just as thrilled. The experience of meeting families in similar situations and being so well taken care of, with every single detail carefully planned and accommodated for us to relax and enjoy, was amazing! As parents of special needs children, we are used to coordinating every detail in our day-to-day, as special accommodations for even the simplest of tasks. This break was refreshing and much needed.”

Jackie said, “We had an incredible time fishing with Captains Mark Schmidt and Captain Jake Stiebs. It was an amazing and much-needed fun day. All three of us caught a fish, and it was a blast reeling them in with the help of our captains. Mark had the kids do a fish dance, and after Alayah did hers, she caught a fish, as did Hayden. We enjoyed the boat ride, too!”

Captain Matt Birno said, “After we set the lines, Chase’s father and grandfather had him say, ‘Here, fishy, here, fishy.’ As soon as he said it louder, we had the first bite, and Chase reeled in his first salmon. There were high-fives all around the boat, and everyone was super excited. Chase was smiling from ear to ear. Not long after, he reeled in another salmon.”

Nola, her brother Sutton, and their father Rodger were fishing with Captain Matt Clinton and first mate Russell Gahagan. Rodger said, “My daughter was really excited when she reeled in her big salmon.” Nola couldn’t contain her excitement and proudly declared, “I won the fish battle!”

Jude was the sole fish enthusiast in his family, so he was thrilled when he caught a large salmon with Captain Jason Dull’s help. His father, Andrew, said, “Thanks so much for the fishing trip over Father’s Day weekend. Jude had a blast and was super excited to come home with some of his favorite food.”

Harper, who is seven years old, attended the fishing trip with her older brother Aiden and their parents. She happily reeled a salmon from her wheelchair with Captain Dale Allen’s help, beaming joyfully. Her mother, Leah, said, “Thank you for a great trip; our family had a wonderful time!”

The boats started returning to the dock around 11:00 am. The captains and their families then displayed their fish for photographs, and everyone celebrated and shared their catch. After that, they all enjoyed a delicious lunch the Port Washington Lions Club provided, followed by a group picture.

Corbin, who is twelve, and his father, Andy, went fishing with Captain Eric Fleishman, and their experience was unforgettable. Andy said, “All I can say is what a great opportunity to spend time with an amazing group of people from start to finish. These are friendships, bonds, and memories that last a lifetime.”

Captain Matt Birno added, “The best part for me is seeing people smile who don’t have the opportunity to enjoy our passion for fishing on the Great Lakes.”

We want to thank Matt Birno and Andrea Feucht for their exceptional work organizing this event. We also thank the captains, first mates, and volunteers whose unwavering commitment and efforts made this event a resounding success.

Additionally, we are grateful to the Port Washington Yacht Club, Port Washington Lions Club, and Port Washington State Bank Community Center for their hospitality and meal service. We also want to thank the WI DNR, Boat Doc, Walleyes for Tomorrow, the City of Port Washington, the Random Lake Rod & Gun Club, and other donors for their continued financial support.

Congratulations to all the families, captains, and first mates for reeling in those impressive salmon and making memories that will last a lifetime! God bless!

The 2025 Port Washington fishing trip is on June 13th and 14th. If your family is interested, please get in touch with us at (800) 518-8019 or [email protected].

If you are interested in getting involved or know of a deserving child or veteran, don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected].