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Veterans enjoy day of fishing, fellowship at Castaic Lake

Posted: July 21, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: July 21, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Twenty- three-year U.S. Navy veteran Gary Briddy, left sits a the controls of a bass boat as he and angler Roger LaRouque hold up some of the big mouth bass they caught during the Top Stick Tour - "Day on the Lake" fishing tournament where military veterans were paired with experienced anglers for a day of fishing and barbecue at Castaic Lake...

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 Trained anglers partnered with United States military veterans and their families Saturday for a day of fellowship and fishing on Castaic Lake, all to recognize and reward those that have served their country in the armed forces.

About 14 anglers volunteered to take the more than 20 participating veterans and their families out on the lake for about five to six hours of fishing, said John Barron, the president and owner of Top Stick Tour, which put on the fishing competition.

“This is kind of a way to give back to these guys,” Barron said. “They can come and they don’t have to worry about anything, they can just go fish.”

After finishing the competition, everyone came back to weigh their fish, enjoy a barbeque lunch provided by the Friends of Castaic Lake and to receive prizes, either for their place in the fishing competition or through a raffle.

The Fregoso Outdoor Foundation also joined in to help put on the event at Castaic Lake, according to co-founder Max Fregoso.

The Fregoso Outdoor Foundation works to stage outdoor events for veterans throughout the year as away to thank them for their service, Fregoso said.

“We want to help these guys get acclimated back into society,” Fregoso said. “And finding a new hobby can help them do that.”

Jasen Watts, an Army veteran from Palmdale, credited the foundation and events like Saturday’s with helping him get back on his feet after being injured in Iraq.

“Things like this, they show me that my injuries don’t need to slow me down,” he said. “It’s opened up whole new worlds for me.”

Troy Smith, a Navy veteran, said he drove all the way from Sacramento to take part in the event.

“It’s been just an awesome day,” he said afterward. “I really appreciate them setting up something like this that veterans can take part in.”

Organizations that contributed to Saturday’s event include the Top Stick Tour, the Fregoso Outdoor Foundation, the Wounded Warrior Project, Friends of Castaic Lake and the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney

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