Oct 9-10th found ArmyBassAngler Pros Cody Roberson, Don Bailey, Chuck Guthrie, Brent Homan, Mike Garrett & Jason Blackmon all converging on the 2009 Fishing for Freedom Tournament on Lake Belton, hosted by the Central Texas Marine Association. This would be the 4th Annual Fishing for Freedom Tournament and what a tournament it was!
Friday night the Central Texas Marine Association hosted a pre-tournament banquet and meeting that completely filled the entire Killeen Convention Center with local anlgers, soldiers and touring pros for a HUGE raffle full of prizes and a first class meal for everyone. “This is truly a first class event. Having participated in the event 3 out of the last 4 years I have had the opportunity to see this thing grow each year. They really do put on a first class event for the soldiers and the boaters,” stated ArmyBassAnglers Pro/President Cody Roberson.
What made this special for 6 lucky soldiers was their names had been drawn to fish with the ArmyBassAnglers Pros aboard those really cool Skeeter custom wrapped Returning Heroes Home boats. “When I found out I was fishing with these guys I was excited. I visited the website and asked a few friends that fish tournaments and was told even if I don’t catch a single fish I had already won,” stated SGT Charles Harvey who was lucky enough to draw the President of ArmyBassAnglers Cody Roberson. Not only did these 6 lucky individuals draw ArmyBassAnglers Pros they were shocked to realize that ArmyBassAngler’s Sponsors always ensure these lucky Soldiers receive a gift package like no other.
In a formal presentation, that was filmed by Texas Tournament Zone, each lucky Soldier received over $1650 each in fishing equipment and special gifts from the ArmyBassAngler Sponsors as a “Thank You” for their selfless service to the country. Each Soldier received a custom Castaway Rod; Ardent XS1000 reel and smart cull systems; tackle bags with hats, shirts, sunscreen, custom t-shirts, off-shore fishing shirts from Aggregate Haulers; loads of fishing tackle and equipment from Tightlines, JaRod Jigs and FirstCommand; custom soft plastics from Lake Fork Tackle; custom tournament shirts, t-shirts, decals from ArmyBassAnglers; custom boating shoes from OTB and custom Oakley Polarized eyewear for each soldier just to name a few of the items provided. “It’s truly an honor to get to fish with these guys. It honestly felt like Christmas as Cody and the Team kept handing us gifts after gifts after gifts. These guys and their sponsors truly do care about us and our service,” said Harvey.
Day two would be a tough cold day of fishing. With morning temps just below the 50s everyone was bundled up for a fun filled day of fishing. To start the morning off, SGT Harvey was given the opportunity to participate in a LIVE interview on AM 1300 The Zone with host Ken Millam just before the National Anthem was played and the tournament began. “That was really cool, Cody spoke to the listeners for a few minutes and then handed me the phone. Talk about cool…I got to give a shout out to my family and just let those listeners know that we appreciate all they are doing for us,” Harvey stated.
Despite some pretty cold fishing conditions, fun was had by all. Harvey and Roberson would hook up early with a keeper on Cody’s third cast. After a bait change Cody would put Harvey on some fish up shallow and Harvey set the hook like a Pro utilizing his new Castaway Rod, Ardent Reel and fishing gear provided by Tightlines, JaRod Jigs and Lake Fork Tackle. SGT Harvey’s fish would prove to be the team’s next solid Keeper. “We had a great time all day. We talked about everything from fishing to family,” stated Roberson.
“That’s what this day is all about. Sure there is a boat and some pretty good prize money on the line, but for ArmyBassAnglers who get to fish these big money events all the time, the day is about getting to take these guys fishing, hook them up with some incredible gifts and just have fun putting them on some fish. We literally, couldn’t do what we do without their service to the country and without our incredible sponsors,” ArmyBassAnglers Pro Mike Garrett stated.
Roberson and Harvey wouldn’t be the only ArmyBassAngler Teams to bring fish to the scales. Every soldier with an ArmyBassAnglers Pro would bring fish to the scales and would wack a lot of fish all day. “We may not have won the event but we definitely had a great time,” stated last year’s Fishing for Freedom Champion Chuck Guthrie. In 2008, ArmyBassAnglers Pro Chuck Guthrie and his lucky partner would take home $20,000+ in prize money.
At the conclusion of the event ArmyBassAngler Pros and partners would take a team photo and swap phone numbers.
“These guys are great and once they fished with us one time we kinda look at it a lot serving together in combat. We have all shared the same dirt down range in different locations like Iraq and Afgan and we know exactly what we have each gone through. So, to take time and spend it fishing helping each other in an event like this is truly special,” said Don Bailey.
For more information on ArmyBassAnglers visit www.ArmyBassAnglers.com