After a pretty rough 2020, it seemed hopeful, and reasonable to expect, that 2021 would get us back on track. And though a lot of things opened up, to various degrees of success, it’s hard to say that this past year has been everything we’d hoped it would be.
Generally speaking, we’re not a lot better off today than we were a year ago. Among other things, we’re currently in the midst of a COVID resurgence, we’re still feeling the effects of a major supply chain disruption, there are workplace issues, climate concerns, and… we’re living through another woeful year from the Detroit Lions.
Going forward, we naturally hope for the best, again. And, because sometimes it takes more than wishing for something to make it happen, we support those community events and projects that help sustain us… through pandemics, economic discontent and social anxiety.
One such event is the annual Veterans’ Fishing Day sponsored by the South Shore Fishing Association. Area veterans, many of whom have spent a lifetime fishing, get to spend a day on the lake, hosted by the SSFA. The 2022 event is scheduled for August 6th.
Operating a little under the sonar, the membership of the South Shore Fishing Association brings together a group of veterans for a day of fun, and honor. Upwards of 75 captains volunteer their boats to ferry more than 150 active anglers. The veterans spend the morning on the big lake, catching fish and swapping stories, and then are welcomed back with a boat parade at the lower harbor.
As you might imagine, the guys love it. Jacobetti resident Blaine Marceau says, “It’s a lot of fun. All the people on the boats are just great people.” He’s not wrong.
It’s a perfect formula for a successful event. Guys who love fishing, take guys who love fishing, fishing. And what it does for area vets makes it all the more rewarding for those doing the heavy lifting… like getting a wheelchair-bound veteran on the boat and out to sea, so to speak. SSFA board member Dave Holsworth says the volunteers get as much out of it as the veterans. “It’s their favorite fishing day of the year.”
But there’s more.
Seeing the opportunity to expand their work with Jacobetti, the SSFA came up with a project for residents to design fishing lures. Apparently, entrepreneurship isn’t limited to a specific demographic. With time and talent on their hands, the idea was a hit among residents. According to Sarah Johnson, Volunteer Coordinator, more than half participated. “It was a unique opportunity that our residents really enjoyed.”
Materials for the project were supplied by a couple of area fishing supply companies: Finn Tackle of Marquette and Moonshine Lures of Rapid River.
And there’s still more. Finn Tackle and Moonshine are also handling a competition for best lure design, with subsequent mass production of the winners. Brad Muscoe of Finn Tackle says they hope to have the winning lures ready for sale by this spring. “We thought it was a great idea and didn’t hesitate to jump on board.” Pun intended?
It looks like what started in 2014 with a few boats and vets has grown into a sustainable program with a bucketful of benefits. The veterans and their families get a keepsake memory and the community chalks up another feel-good story, courtesy of folks who know the value in doing for others.
And that’s not all. The South Shore Fishing Association, some 120 strong, has a number of other cool projects on their annual calendar, like the upcoming Teal Lake Ice Fishing Derby on January 29th. They also run competitive tournaments, have events for women and kids, and organize a river cleanup day.
Association president Todd Scott says their membership likes to “give back, especially in the form of fishing events, education, and knowledge.”
The South Shore Fishing Association is just one of dozens of area service clubs and special interest organizations that help keep things afloat around here. If you’re not a member of one, you can contribute to the cause by supporting their events and projects.
To find out more about Veterans’ Fishing Day or the Teal Lake Ice Fishing Derby, or any other South Shore Fishing Association event, visit southshorefishing.com.
So, it turns out that the doom and gloom from the last two years doesn’t have to be our default position. We can do more than just tread water. We just have to take a cue from our fishing friends and put a line in it. 2022… here we come!