American Inspiration

Maybe it is an age thing for this fisherman reaching 50 next year and reflecting on his life, ultimately searching to make a difference and most of all wanting to give back.

Yes, I always knew growing up, that anything you set your heart on and want to achieve takes hard work. My favorite childhood mantra “I think I can, I know I can.” Each day parenting, I guide my children in this direction to be grateful for the good life, i.e. family, health, home, education and most of all love.

I am like many other anglers… I’ve been fishing my whole life. Growing up in South Florida, I fished every chance I possibly could, off bridges and piers, in lakes, from shore and boats, whatever it took to wet a line.

A few years ago my son and I were fishing out in the Everglades. We saw numerous anglers competing in local tournaments. Having a strong desire to join in, plus my competitive nature, prompted me to ask these fishermen, if I could partner-up. My son was 7 years old at the time, and out of the mouth of babes, came this very wise advice. “Gee Dad you don’t need to ask people or friends to fish tournaments, I am your partner, and we are a team.” He just knocked my socks off. Now at almost 12 years old, Jake is the greatest partner a man could ask for. Jake fishes as hard as any adult and is committed to the sport. Jake has won Junior Angler Tournaments in 2008, 2010 and 2011.

A few years back, Jake and I had the opportunity to invite a soldier and his father fishing with us. Since the soldier had just completed a second deployment in Iraq, we wanted to make his fishing day a special one. It sure was a special day, not only for our military guest and his Dad, but for us. We needed to thank them for joining us, as Jake and I were so full of emotion and elated, just to observe the soldier able to relax and enjoy the sport with his Dad catching fish. Most of all we were able to impart our fishing knowledge and help them throughout the day which made us very happy.

This day inspired us and we realized it couldn’t just end there. This was our opportunity to give back, in our small way, to the men and women who protect our beautiful America, our freedom and our way of life. Subsequently our dreams and ideas came to fruition. We will give a Fishing Therapy Day to America’s finest….The sons and daughters, the soldiers who so bravely keep us free. It is to be noted that although many families are presently facing rough times, Americans need to stand tall and serve. I mean not only in the military, but the civilian populace doing our small fair share… We are very proud American’s today shouting out to all how “Fishing with America’s Finest came to be.

God bless the U.S.A. and all who serve her. Please pass the word and come join us.

Capt. Neal Stark American Everglades Guide, Inc. www.AmericanEvergladesGuide.com

What the soldiers are saying:

Neal,

I’m glad to hear that your offer to take vets out for a day of fishing in the everglades as a way of giving back has become so successful. It’s an honor to hear that we played a small part of it by being the genesis for this great program. Others would be content to donate a few dollars to a good cause and call it a day. You’re willingness to want to really get involved and commit your time and resources to this is truly amazing. Words alone cannot express my gratitude for your helping my son Matt and I get back together after he returned from his second deployment in 2009. Spending the day fishing in the everglades was very relaxing and therapeutic in helping him adjust to being home. But the real difference was you – you opened up your heart and your home to us and reminded us what it was like to be a family. Just being with you and Jake helped us connect again as father and son and showed us how important that spending quality time together is. Your sincerity in wanting to help by doing this was evident from the very beginning and made me comfortable in taking you up on your offer to help. I know that it meant a lot to you to be able to help a fellow military family and we greatly appreciated it. Thanks again for showing us that America is still a great country with a great spirit, thanks to people like you and Jake.

Your Friends Eternally, Doug and Matt H.

Dear Neal,

Thank you so much for taking Calvin (my son) and I fishing in the Everglades. As soon as we left the city and got into your boat, a nice wave of relaxation set in. It felt great to get out of the concrete jungle of the city and get into to the fresh and open air.

I was amazed by all of the natural scenery and wildlife that we were able to see that day – plenty of alligators along with several different types of magnificent birds and fish. Before the trip, I had never caught a fish larger than a few inches and I have to say that reeling in my first bass was a pretty awesome feeling. Those fish really do have quite a bit of power! You and your son were very helpful guides for us newbie’s.

I didn’t realize how much skill was involved in fishing but you two were great teachers and made it easy for us to reel in a few monsters. I feel as though the Everglades is a very special place and I truly feel blessed that my son and I were able to spend some quality time together with you all.

Sincerely, Thomas Adams

Neal,

Thank you for a wonderful day trip in the Everglades which was the highlight of a great holiday in Miami. It was a 5 star trip. I was moved by the raw beauty, the abundance of wildlife and your obvious passion for the Everglades. It was fascinating seeing the alligators close up (although I would not want to see our friend Humpback any closer…)

It was incredibly peaceful and an experience I will carry with me. Thank you for looking after me, a city girl, so well. I could not have asked for a more knowledgeable guide or a more thoughtful host. I have already recommended you to friends. The American Everglades Guide is the “must do” experience for anyone going to Miami or Florida.

Caroline Doran, London July 2011

Tags: #FishingNews




BassAnglerMag Top Stories