Last weekend the Oklahoma Kayak Anglers hosted a 2-day online charity tournament named the Freedom Fighters online charity fundraiser. This event was a benefit tournament with all proceeds donated to Heroes on the Water Northeastern Oklahoma Chapter. The OKA donated $585 to HOW NEO Chapter. "We are very appreciative of the donation to our chapter. It will be used to update gear and chapter operations" - Casey Fugett - Chapter Coordinator.
Heroes on the Water is a veterans and first responder organization whose mission is to help warriors relax, rehabilitate and reintegrate through kayak fishing and the outdoors. HOW has chapters all across the United States, as well as Australia and the United Kingdom. When choosing to partner with HOW Northeastern Oklahoma Chapter, veteran and OKA board member Luke Aryan had this to say:
"I have spent my entire life fishing in some way shape or form, and it helped me and continues to help me cope with stress and day to day life. I've been blessed to be able to do as much as a I do thanks to my spouses support, both during my military career and after.
When I was asked to set up a benefit tournament, I sat around for weeks wondering what organization I should pick and it was harder than I thought. Their are so many organizations with great causes and great leadership I wasn't sure how I was going to narrow it down. While scrolling through my social media I saw a post that made me stop, read and made my decision for me. Jim Dolan, the founder of Heroes On the Water passed on and although I've never met him before his actions and legacy was proof of his character. His decision to serve both his country and his fellow man during his military career and after was something I admire and now strive to achieve.
A fellow veteran told me about HOW some years prior to me getting "serious" into my kayak life and I got to see first hand how they helped reintegrate vets of all backgrounds and ages together as one unit. The bond that all of us veterans have is impenetrable and irreplaceable and if you add that to a community of yakers and anglers then we are damn near kin. Jim understood what only a veteran can and he along with his family and staff built a platform to help us even if we refused to help ourselves. This type of self sacrifice is what we as Americans can turn to and use as a beacon to guide us towards a better America".
Veteran and OKA board member Micheal Galbraith:
"As a veteran of the United States Army Veterans Day holds a special place in my heart. Reminds me of the friendships forged in blood, sweat, and tears. Remembering those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and those who are still serving today. I remember the day I joined as if it was yesterday the fear of the unknown and then joining a group of brothers and sisters that I never knew I would have for a life time. Through fishing I learned of Heroes on the water and the great things they do for all veterans. However, do to work schedules I wasn't able to help with any of their fishing events till now. Once this charity tournament was put together it was a no-brainier to sign up and help support a great cause and I look forward to the next one. I am proud to be a veteran, an Oklahoman and a fisherman. Without the sacrifices of others like myself and those before me none of this would be possible".
The Freedom Fighters Online Charity tournament was held November, 9th and 10th with all public Oklahoma waters eligible to fish. The infamous Okie weather threw every cold front and rain storm she had before this event. Ironically, the weather for this event couldn't have been better. The damage was complete and many anglers experienced tough fishing and almost no catching. As always somebody always manages to catch a limit and those 2 anglers were tied after the judging was complete. Anglers Danny Bowen and Rocky Watson both finished with 77.50", with Watson taking the top spot through a tie breaker of the biggest fish caught which was a 21.25" largemouth.
Watson, an angler from Kansas, who just recently moved to western Oklahoma started tournament kayak fishing through Pondwarrior events on TourneyX. " I caught all my fish along along a rock dam on a chartreuse and silver suspended jerk bait and crawdad colored crankbait casting to the rock bank and coming off in 2 to 4 ft. of water as the lure began to dive. The fish must have been searching for food as the wind and waves bounced off the rocks."
- Avery Metcalf