A group of fishermen and women came together a few years ago and decided that they wanted to give back to the community. During a meeting of the Western Lake Superior Trollers Association, members chose to honor veterans with a special event.

Vets On Lake Superior takes place this Saturday, July 22. It was created as a way to say thank you to our Veterans. I had a chance to speak with one of the organizers, Jim, who told me the history of the event and the impact it has had.

Jim Vanlandshoot
Jim Vanlandshoot
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It started 5 years ago and they brought out around 30 veterans. The WLSTA teamed up with MACV and The Douglas County Veteran Services to find veterans who wanted to go fishing on Lake Superior. Volunteers made up of both charter fishermen and recreational fishermen took the volunteers out. There were about 6 boats the first year.

Word of mouth spread, and now there's actually a waiting list of veterans to get out on the lake. There are now 40 boats that take the veterans out. Jim says they've had to put a cap on how many veterans they can at 120, but are going to be able to get into some of the names on the waiting list this year. Going forward, they'll be working on getting all the veterans out at least once on the waiting list.

The group huddles up in the morning, say a few words, and then heads out on Lake Superior, looking to catch Coho Salmon, Lake Trout, Chinook Salmon, and the occasional walleye.

Jim Vanlandshoot
Jim Vanlandshoot
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Then in the afternoon, they fry up the fish and have a big picnic with all the sides and salads being donated by volunteers.

Jim Vanlandshoot
Jim Vanlandshoot
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I asked Jim what typical veterans sign up for the day and he said it's been a mix of everyone from Vietnam vets all the way to recent veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq. He said that the first year they actually brought out a World War II vet. He's passed away since then, but his daughter is still passionate about the event and volunteers her time each year to help out.

Jim Vanlandshoot
Jim Vanlandshoot
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Local businesses have also helped out with covering costs and helping support Vets on Lake Superior. BNSF donated $3,000 and is providing bottled water for all the boats. The Douglas County Fish and Game League also supports the event. Charter guides also donate their time and give up a money-making day. Most charters charge $500 each for a day of fishing but provide it free to the vets on this day.

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Money is also raised through the JAWS contest that takes place every June on the St. Louis River.

If you are a veteran or know a veteran that would be interested in taking part, contact MACV at 218-722-8763, or the Douglas County Veteran Services at 715-395-1331.

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