The fifth annual Wounded Warrior fishing derby in Cathlamet got off to a smashing start Monday night and concluded Tuesday with some big salmon on the Cathlamet docks, organizers said Wednesday.
A total of 24 boats and 46 guests participated in the event, which is meant to give active and retired military personnel a good time and recognition for their service.
Organizer Willie Johnson said 120 to 140 people attended the Alaska sockeye banquet Monday night. Wounded Warrior volunteer Sherrill Bollen added that guests and boat crews were out on the Columbia River by 5 a.m. Tuesday in their quest to catch the biggest fish.
Dan Even, who is based at Joint Base Lewis-McCord near Tacoma, landed the biggest fish, a chinook salmon weighing 19 pounds, 6 ounces. He landed it on a boat captained by Greg and Cecile Bamer, who, like all the other boat owners, donated their time and fishing equipment.
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Personnel from JBLM accounted for 34 of the guest participants, and the remaining 12 were from local first-responder agencies. Joannie Kuhlmeyer, who works for the Wahkiakum County Sheriff’s Office, won the first responder part of the derby.
Johnson thanked myriad volunteers and businesses for donations that made the event possible, including Bob’s Merchandise, Sportsman’s Warehouse and the Cathlamet Hotel.
‘”Everybody had a wonderful time,” Johnson said, adding, “Soon we’ll start planning next year’s event.”
The Wounded Warrior Project is a charity and veterans service organization that offers a variety of programs, services and events for wounded veterans of military actions following Sept. 11, 2001.