Camp Confidence and fishing are a good combination.
The latest success story is Fishing Has No Boundaries, a program for disabled anglers, which took place Aug. 2 on Sylvan Lake and the Gull Lake chain.
"I can see this growing into a huge event, a mainstay in the Brainerd lakes area," Camp Confidence Director Slaybaugh said. "We had participants from all over the state and we hope they bring their friends along next year."
Fishing Has No Boundaries is a national organization with local affiliates. The national organization helped Camp Confidence with insurance and equipment costs and in training guides who had no previous experience in working with the handicapped.
Any disabled person was welcome to fish. This year's group totaled 36, with the youngest being 9 and the oldest 77. Twenty-nine guides from as far away as the Twin Cities offered their services for the day.
"They caught tons of fish," Slaybaugh said. "But it wasn't a contest or a tournament so we didn't keep track of who caught the most or the biggest. It was just an opportunity to be on lake and have a good time. This shows how fishing can bring people from all walks of life together."
Thursday night, Tim Brastrup, DNR area fisheries manager, presented "Fishing 101," a crash course in local fisheries management. Responsible conservation was stressed, but Brastrup told the participants they were welcome to take home a few fish to eat, and most did.
Friday night featured a banquet for all participants. Saturday the people who fished on Gull were treated to free lunches at Ernie's, Bar Harbor and Zorbaz. Fishermen on Sylvan had shore lunch on the beach. The event wrapped up with a banquet Saturday night, at which fresh fish were served and door prizes handed out.
Slaybaugh said the Crow Wing County and Cass County water patrol units and the Brainerd Amateur Radio Club helped the event by watching the weather and keeping guides notified when showers approached. As a result, all participants stayed safe and dry.
Unlike other fishing events at Camp Confidence, this was not a fund raiser. It simply was a chance for disabled people to enjoy a day of fishing.
"We pride ourselves on running events that are independent of anybody else," Slaybaugh said. "But this time we developed a partnership that will carry on a program that needs carrying on."
Slaybaugh doesn't expect major changes for next year's event, but for one thing.
"We've been told it's common to see double participation the second year," Slaybaugh said. "That's exactly what we're hoping for."
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.