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Thomas Gadacz, President of the Florida Council, Fly Fishers International and Member of the Suncoast Fly Fishers shares a great short article on the Annual Crosthwait Memorial Fishing Tournament at the Bradenton Yacht Club on May 19, 2018 below:

The Annual Crosthwait Memorial Fishing Tournament and the Bradenton Yacht Club hosted the seventh annual Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing event on May 19, 2018 on Snead Island on the south side area of Tampa Bay.   It provided some 30 Florida disable veterans and their volunteers a day of fly fishing.  Bob Gause, assisted by Jason Joule, organized boat owners, captains and guides which provided the boats and personnel for these veterans.  Mike Reeves and Bob Gause, assisted by Ted Haas, organized the day’s event at the Bradenton Yacht Club.  Program Leads Alan Sewell from the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System with support from the Suncoast Fly Fishers, a FFI club, as well as Joseph Perez, Project Lead Tampa Chapter, from the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital with support from the Tampa Bay Fly Fishers, also a FFI club, brought most of the disabled veterans and volunteers.  Jacob Blenker, a Purple Heart recipient organized 3 other vets to participate. There were also volunteers from the Mangrove Fly Fishers, FFI.

After a brief orientation, the captains, volunteers, and veterans headed out to fish the Manatee River, lower Tampa Bay, and the Terra Ceia area for 4 to 5 hours.  Temperature in the low eighties, partly cloudy skies and a mild breeze provided a great day to be out on the water.  The veterans brought their own gear including flies they tied and even rods they built.   A variety of species were caught including snook, sea trout, grouper, jacks, mackerel, blue runners and lady fish.  This gave our veterans an opportunity to fish with some great Captains and guides and an opportunity to learn fly casting and fishing from the best in this area.

Captain Bryon Chamberlin, veteran Phil Mazur and I were on Bryon’s Hell’s Bay boat.  Phil casted from the bow and as we drifted over several areas and again when Byron poled along several drop-offs. We fished several areas and Phil landed about 10 trout (one 14 incher), a couple of lady fish, and 2 early catch and release jacks. One of the jacks broke off his leader.  Anyone catching a big jack with a chartreuse over white Clouser, please call Phil and let him know the exact size of the fish.  We had great support from Bryon and the other local Captains and volunteers for putting us on fish.  Other vets were also successful on fly, as well as spinning gear when the opportunity arose.

About noon the boats began coming in and the fish stories began. A lunch spread for the participants was provided by the Anna Maria Oyster Bar.   General Rule = Never be the first person to tell a fish story since all that follow will be about bigger and more numerous fish.   This year was an exception since the first story was about the giant grouper that wouldn’t fit in the boat. What great camaraderie!

We thank the Bradenton Yacht Club, Crosthwait Memorial Fishing Tournament, Yellowfin Boats and all the sponsors and especially the Captains and volunteers who gave their time and boats to honor our veterans.  We are grateful for their services in defending our country.

 Capt Byron poling

Ted Hass making assignments

Ted Hass, Stewart Mitchell, Mike Perez, Ron Bloomquist

Volunteer Dave Barson & veteran

Volunteer Terry Kirkpatrick & vet Stan Doty

Volunteers Terry Kirkpatrick, Alan Sewell, Roger Williams