In 2014 a veteran started a Facebook discussion about his ice fishing gear that had been worn out from the harsh winter elements in Minnesota. Within a few days of his post on Facebook, a group of people gathered some ice fishing gear, and sent it to this veteran so that he could get back on the ice doing what he enjoyed the most. This is the short story of how Fishing with Vets was born. It was at this point that this group of individuals realized that they not only wanted to, but had to do something for our veteran community. By December of 2014 Fishing with Vets was created and was official. Fishing with Vets had a name, started a Facebook page, was incorporated, and was beginning the process of getting it’s 501C3 status.
In the beginning Fishing with Vets started out as an “open seat” concept for a veteran to join anyone out fishing that would provide the opportunity. Shortly after the first few trips professional guides starting taking notice to what Fishing with Vets was doing. A few of these guides volunteered to provide a veteran as well as a plus one on a guided fishing trip. To everyone’s surprise two veterans who served in Vietnam together and hadn’t seen each other in over 40 years signed up to go on a guided trip together. This was truly the turning point for the direction that Fishing with Vets has gone and continues to go.
Fishing with Vets started reaching out to contacts and finding donors to provide funding for trips on a larger scale. In the fall of 2015 Fishing with Vets put on its’ first weekend long event on Lake of the Woods; which provided 16 veterans a weekend of fun, fishing, relaxation, and most importantly camaraderie. This year, 2018, will be the 4th year for the Lake of the Woods trip and this year 30 veterans will be attending this event.
Every year the board members try to expand/enhance the outreach of Fishing with Vets, and in 2018/2019 there will be trips in Minnesota, South Dakota, and North Dakota. They have also recently added one event a year that will be focused on two veteran families where they will enjoy a weekend of guided fishing and fun on Lake Michigan. Fishing with Vets will continue to provide all lodging, food, bait, and guides for all veterans attending an event.
By the end of the 2018 calendar year Fishing with Vets will have had over 400 veterans attend their events. Fishing with Vets is greatly indebted to those that have guided, volunteered, and donated over the years; these people are truly the backbone of this organization. Every donor, volunteer, and guide who gives their time, money, and/or equipment have been a direct contributor to the success of our organization.
For this we thank you!