"Although I fish the Bassmaster Weekend Series, my Northeast Tournament Manager, Gary Conner, put me in touch with Wayne Alker, an AFT Tournament Director here in Southern Pennsylvania, and Debra Talley, the Marketing Director for American Bass Anglers. The two of them just took the ball and ran with it to help me make this the best Operation Rod & Reel event to date", he continued.
Every participant was treated to a rod & reel and sponsor pack from Early Times Kentucky Whisky. The John Colvitti Company out of Philadelphia, stepped up to the plate and awarded the top 5 military participants with cash donations totaling $800! Ron "Buckeye" Terlop, BWS tournament angler from Ohio, and owner of Prostaff Bass Mafia, donated the cash prize for the Big Fish winner as well as drove over and worked the event.
The winning weight of 6.66 pounds was brought in by Sgt. Brendan Mummart of Ft. Indiantown Gap. Coming in 2nd was Tech Sgt. Kevin Watson with a weight of 6.31 pounds. Taking 3rd was SPC Dana McDonald of Horsham Air Force Base with 6.24 pounds. 4th place was SRA Ryan Purcell also from Horsham Air Force Base with the weight of 6.11 pounds. Rounding off the top five with a weight as 6.06 was CWA Litho Ware of Ft. Indiantown Gap. The Big Fish was brought in by Ryan Purcell weighing 3.06 pounds.
Upon their arrival back to the weigh-in site all of the participants were treated to grilled hamburgers and hotdogs. For many of the AFT anglers, fishing on Lake Wallenpaupack was a new experience. Their top 5 winners include, Scott McDonough bringing in the winning weight of 14.15 pounds and also the Big Fish winner with a weight of 6.75 pounds. Coming in 2nd with a weight of 11.38 pounds was Jim Struble. 3rd place was Don Philpots landing a weight of 3.59 pounds with 4th place taken by Steve Lowe with 3.38 pounds. Rounding out the 5th place was Dennis Budzitowski with 1.65 pounds.
Miller and his wife, Jody, collected numerous draw prizes for both the soldiers and boaters including guided bobcat and fox hunting trips!
"We are very appreciative to Early Times for allowing us to implement the Operation Rod & Reel Program for them", said Talley, ABA National Marketing Director. "And, we are certainly appreciative to the volunteer boaters that came out and helped us from Division 9 as well as the local volunteers. New friendships were made as seasoned anglers shared techniques and secrets with future tournament participants. Friendships were forged as these mentors spent the day with America’s Finest", she concluded.
The next scheduled Operation Rod & Reel Events will take place December 1st on Lake Sinclair in Georgia, directed by Dave Fox and his Division 72 tournament anglers and then on Kerr Lake, Virginia, on April 21st directed by Gary Conner, Northeast BWS Tournament manager and AFT Director of Division 13 and assisted by Kevin Miller. Any active duty service member age 21 and over may register for these events by calling the ABA office at 256-232-0406.