Annual fishing tournament celebrates more veterans than ever


LAKE ERLING, Ark. (KTAL/KMSS) – Wet weather doesn’t put a damper on an annual event celebrating those who’ve served our country. 

More than 30 teams of veterans and boat captains set out on Lake Erling Saturday for the annual AGRED Foundation Wounded Patriots Fishing Tournament.

“It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was gonna be,” said Kelly Craig, a patriot participating in the event who retired from the U.S. Army. “They had some moments there where, you know, it was really tough fishing. I mean in the rain, it always is, but we had a good time.”

This is the biggest event yet for the group, with 50 percent more participants than last year and about $32,000 awarded to veterans.

“Everybody in the tournament on the patriot side, the bass fishing and the crappie fishing, received anywhere from $3,000 down to $300,” said Mike Echols, tournament director.

The tournament is an opportunity to give back to those who fought for our freedoms. 

“For every one you pass in uniform, you’re passing somebody in a t-shirt or a pair of blue jeans that you have no idea what they have done and what they’ve sacrificed for our country and our personal freedom,” said Echols. “So, this is a way of rewarding and saying thanks to those.”

Barry Guidry won first place on the crappie side of the tournament, catching five fish that weighed 7.77 pounds. 

“It’s the first time I’ve ever won something like this!” said Guidry, a U.S. Army veteran. 

Guidry won more than $2,000, and said he is going to use it all to buy holiday gifts for veteran families in need to continue the cycle of giving. 

“Everybody that has been here today is supporting us, and it, it truly humbles us, but it gives us an opportunity to not only bond as brothers, but to thank everyone that does this for us every year,” said Guidry.

KTAL NBC 6 is a proud sponsor of the annual AGRED Foundation Wounded Patriots Fishing Tournament. This is the third year for the event. 

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