HAMMOND — Soldiers, youngsters and anglers of all kinds are expected to come out in droves this Saturday for the Fish Creek Bait & Tackle’s seventh annual Black Lake Challenge.
The event kicks off at 6 a.m. with sign ups at the bait & tackle shop at 7659 Route 58 and runs until 3 p.m. The event is $15 for adults and $5 for kids 16 years and under.
Event Organizer and Fish Creek Bait & Tackle owner Joey Parker said the event has been storied for raising money for the Wounded Warrior Project and other charities and over the seven years has raised about $10,000.
“It’s for fishing at Black Lake only and the largest pike division adults and kids,” Mr. Parker said. “We raise a lot of money for our charities.”
This year the money raised will go to Pink Fishing: Reeling in a Cure, which is the National Breast Cancer Society, as well as for Fort Drum soldiers. The event will also feature the 10th Mountain’s Division Water Wolf Challenge.
“It’s something special, something new this year,” Mr. Parker said. “We get a lot of soldiers here so there’s a special prize for the Fort Drum soldier who catches the largest pike, which we call a Water Wolf out here, and we send the money right directly, it’s local, to Fort Drum, either the USO or there’s a couple of other causes that we send it to.”
Mr. Parker still finds the excitement in hosting the event and said one of the more memorable moments he has experienced as a result of the tournament was a call from the Pentagon last year.
“My little, tiny shop, I got a lot of good people who help me with this, and last year I received a personal phone call from the Under Secretary of the United States Army,” Mr. Parker said, still with disbelief in his voice. “My phone rang and I looked at it and it said the Pentagon. So I had a special call from Ryan McCarthy . . . who called me personally for raising all this money for the Wounded Warrior Project and he sent me this really big, hand-signed plaque, which means so much to me.”
He said his years of sending the money raised to the Under Secretary of the Army resulted in a relationship; however, this year he said he was trying something different by sending it to Fort Drum, to show his immediate support for the soldiers that have come up year after year to fish.
Donald R. Meissner, host of the WPBS program “Fishing Behind the Lines,” where he takes combat Marines fishing and gets their story, will also be there, Mr. Parker said.
“He is a good friend of ours and big supporter of our derby. They love what we do out here,” Mr. Parker said. “So there’s a lot of excitement.
He said the excitement has grown since he opened his bait shop and with it has grown what he calls his “fishing family” and that family turns out for these fundraisers, where anglers will also be fed from a “great big array of a wild game feed” that is laid out at no cost, although donations are accepted, with all money going toward the fundraiser.
“Once we did the first derby and all of those kids’ faces and all of the smiles . . . Last year, we had 50 kids here and each one of those kids had up to 50 prizes, so that tells you a little bit about what we do here. We just make it the best,” he said. “We take care of people.”
For more information, contact Mr. Parker at (315) 767-6274.