This annual fishing tournament began with Manistee County charter Captain Bob Guenthardt. Bob is a former Ogema of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians and a proud Army veteran. His idea and desire to show appreciation to members of the military for their dedication and sacrifice provided the foundation for this unique event. In the fall of 2009, Captain Bob, the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians and the Little River Casino Resort created a “Host Committee”, which later reached out to the Paralyzed Veterans of America, Michigan Chapter and the Brain Injury Association of Michigan and the entire Manistee area community. Captain Bob’s fleet of volunteer fishing boat captains, local organizations such as Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Warrior Society, United Veterans Council, Rolling Thunder Michigan Chapter 1, National Guard and U.S. Coast Guard, and many private businesses, and hundreds of volunteer individuals throughout the state of Michigan joined together and successfully executed this outstanding event.
Nine years later, Tight Lines for Troops (a federally recognized nonprofit organization) proudly announced its 10th Annual Charity Fishing Tournament for Michigan Veterans. In 2018 the fleet included over 50 Captains and their boats, and delivered another memorable experience for 300 Michigan Veterans. Those who received “boarding priority” were WWII and Korean War Vets, Purple Heart recipients, veterans disabled, POWs, and then any Veteran of any branch of service. In addition to the Big Lake boat fishing, the Pier/Shore Divisions included opportunities for Veterans to fish from land.
Though the fishing tournament and meal is limited to registered participants, the public is invited to join the “Welcome Back Celebration” as the boats return to the City Marina, traveling up the river channel. The riverwalk along the river channel is lined with patriotic and appreciative fans, waving their flags to cheer and welcome the fishermen back “home”. In expressing his gratitude for the event a previous participant said, “When I came home from duty, we were told not to wear our uniforms. The people were tired of Southeast Asia. Thank you for honoring these great men and women for their service. I was honored to be part of the day.” Another participant shared these feelings: “This is the Welcome Home I never received. After all these years, I cried because I didn’t realize how much it meant to me. I was proud to take part.” Don’t miss this amazing sight – be a part of it!
The success of this program is a result of the collective efforts of over 500 sponsors and volunteers. Veterans pay no charter fees or entry fees. It is with great pleasure and honor that we all look forward to hosting the “9th Annual Tight Lines for Troops Fishing Tournament for Michigan Veterans” on May 18th and 19th, 2018.