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Disabled veterans get the chance to wet a line and land a bass

Union Leader Correspondent

September 09. 2018 11:05PM
Oscar Toce, of Laconia, who retired in 2002 after 24 years in the Army, Army Reserves and National Guard snaps a salute as he walks off the dock at Camp Robindel in Moultonborough, as his daughter follows, during the 19th Annual New England Paralyzed Veteran and Disabled Bass Fishing Tournament held this weekend. (Bea Lewis/Union Leader Correspondent)

MOULTONBOROUGH – Disabled veterans got to feel the sun on their face and the wind in their hair while getting the chance to hook a big fish this weekend.

Lori Chase who annually volunteers to help organize the fishing derby said 24 disabled veterans participate. She thanked area businesses for their donations and the willingness of fellow fisherman to share their boats, equipment and expertise to offer those who served their country plenty of fodder for fish stories.

The owners of Camp Robindel on Lake Winnipesaukee donate the use of their facilities for the event.

Eadyie Davis of Danvers, Mass., who served in the Air Force during the Desert Storm/Desert Shield era was paired up with captain Paul Gelinas of Manchester.

Gelinas who has volunteered with the tournament for more than 14 years makes the event a family affair and brought along his wife, Sandy and their daughter Olivia, 13.

While out on the state’s largest lake, Gelinas said, they spotted lots of wildlife include numerous loons, several eagles and osprey. The oddest sighting was a grey squirrel that appeared to be contently swimming from the direction of the mainland towards an island.

Davis recounted that she recorded the swimming squirrel with her cell phone and said its fluffy tail was stretched out behind atop the water like that of a beaver.

While Gelinas said they didn’t have much luck landing big fish they still enjoyed a day on the lake.

“It’s the least we can do to help these guys out and honor them,” he said.

While he was fishing from his boat, his daughter was wetting a hook of her own.

“It’s a tackle box not an Xbox,” Sandy Gelinas said of her daughter’s interest in being outdoors.

Bill Church of Amherst, who has trailered his bass boat to Moultonborough to serve as a captain during the event for the past 12 years said he enjoys the chance to interact with veterans and fish.

“It’ my favorite time of year,” he said, as he released five plump bass his crew had caught back into the lake. One of their fish tipped the scales at 3.23 pounds. Teamed up with veteran John Worrall their catch collectively weighed 10.33 pounds.

An avid angler who is a member of a bass club and builds his own fishing rods, Church recounted that the first time he volunteered he didn’t have any experience with people coping with physical challenges.

He was paired with a veteran who was a paraplegic and quickly learned he participated in the Paralympics in skiing. Within minutes of being in the boat together, Church hooked a huge fish and heard his vet ask if he needed the net.

“I didn’t know what to say to him I didn’t want to be rude,” recounted Church. As he battled the 6.5-pound bass to the boat his partner had the net ready and helped land the lunker.

“We won the tournament with it,” Church said.

Barry Weeks of Meredith, presented a check for $1,140 from Griggs-Wyatt American Legion Post No. 33 to help fund the event now in its 19th year which is free to disabled veterans and relies on volunteers and donations.

Human Interest Outdoors Fishing Moultonboro Veterans

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