Bass Tournament to Pay Tribute to Guard Members


Soldiers sitting on the desert battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan can barely find enough water to drink at times.   The thought of finding enough water to go fishing is often just a dusty dream about home.   Now one national organizer of bass fishing tournaments is hoping to give those soldiers a taste of home fishing as a reward for their return.

FLW Outdoors along with the West Virginia Bass Federation will stage a National Guard Soldier Appreciation bass tournament this Sunday on the Ohio River in Wheeling.  It’s one of 28 such tournaments the organization is staging across the country to pay tribute to National Guard and military members.

"It’s getting more and more common and usually a majority of those participating in our tournaments have done at least one tour of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan," said Corey Stigen of FLW Outdoors. "That’s usually how a state will decide.  They’ll usually try to focus on a unit that has just returned from the war to reward those soldiers."

Normally the National Guard appreciation event is held in conjunction with one of the FLW’s nationally sanctioned tournaments. However, not every state is host to one of those mega-events.   FLW still wanted to show their appreciation to states with a strong guard presence.  West Virginia is known nationally for its strength and readiness for both the West Virginia Army and Air National Guard. The stellar reputation played a role in bringing the event to West Virginia.

"Yeah, I believe it was.  It was decided by the National Guard Bureau and I think it was through their efforts and strength and their ability to provide a guard like that," Stigen said. "The other reason is because West Virginia does so well and nothing really of the national programs of NASCAR, Indy Car, or FLW touches the state.  We really wanted to reach out and at least give them something of the pie."

Ten boats will participate in the event.  Each boat will be operated by a volunteer member of the West Virginia Bass Federation and will carry two National Guard members.  The three will form a team to compete in the event.

Organizers are hoping for a large crowd at Sunday’s weigh-in to pay tribute to the guard members.  The weigh-in will be on Wheeling Island at the boat ramp at 2:30pm Sunday afternoon.

"We usually do it at our big events. The soldier tournament weigh-in is before our top 20 weigh-in on Saturday so we already have a large crowd there," Stigen said. "But the funny thing is you get to watch the fans watching the soldiers weigh-in.  They always get a standing ovation and the crowd is always fired up for the soldiers to win the tournament."


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