Walleyes, those often large and always playful, denizens of the Allegheny River and Reservoir will do their part for veterans this summer.
The question is, will you?
Disabled American Veterans Chapter 75 will again sponsor two walleye tournaments this year, one in May and another in June.
Times Observer photo by Rob Andersen
Warren Chapter 75 of the Disabled American Veterans will hold its eighth annual DAV Benefit Walleye Fish Fry on Saturday, March 1 at Russell Fire Hall with doors opening at 4:30 p.m. All tickets must be bought in advance, with none available at the door. There will also be appetizers and desserts, prepared by the Warren County Career Center’s Culinary Arts class. Tickets may be obtained by a $10 donation to the DAV by calling 814-706-6625 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Admiring cupcakes made by the class are, from left, Walt Simpson, first senior vice commander of the Pennsylvania DAV; Alesha Bergstrom and Samantha Anthony, culinary arts students; and Scott Andersen, DAV trustee.
The Giordano Memorial Tournament will be held on May 18 at Willow Bay, with registration ending at 6 p.m. on May 17. The Brandt and Fields Commemorative Tournament will be held at Wolf Run Marina on June 15, with registration ending at 6 p.m. on June 14.
On the morning of the tourneys, boats will be released in the order the registrations were received. To download registration forms and 2014 rules, visit DAV Walleye or www.kinzua-walleye.com.
Entry fees are $225 per team, and prize amounts will depend on the number of teams registered.
Winning teams will be determined by the five largest fish by weight. It is also a catch-and-release event.
There is also a $2,000 minimum prize for the biggest walleye in each tournament, with additional amounts added, again based on how many teams that register.
Gary Wert, media coordinator for the local chapter, said, "The professional walleye anglers are not necessarily more likely to win the big fish prize, as it will be won by whomever is in the right place at the right time."
Funds raised, less prize amounts, are used exclusively to benefit veterans, providing transportation to medical facilities and for charter fishing tours for the disabled veterans on Lake Erie.
Each tournament will be a one-day event, with two-person teams fishing only from boats on the Allegheny Reservoir, according to Wert.
Scott Andersen, DAV trustee, noted that the Seneca Nation has granted permission for competitors to fish in the Seneca's portion of the reservoir.
While anyone may participate, those wishing to qualify for Cabela's National Walleye Tournament must join or already be a member of The Walleye Federation.
Wertz added, "If you want to have a good time, come to the weigh-in at 3:30, the fishermen don't hesitate to share their knowledge, tell what they are using, let you look in their boats and help people learn how to fish the reservoir," noting that the Allegheny Reservoir has a reputation of being a difficult place to fish.
There will also be an auction of outdoors products, like a knife donated each year by Case Knives of Bradford, guns and other items following the Willow Bay tournament.
Walt Simpson, first vice commander for the Pennsylvania state DAV, added, "The Warren County Chapter is the most active chapter in the United States for transport and activities, like outings for fishing and golf."
They bring veterans from the Soldiers' and Sailors' Home in Erie, as well as Warren State Hospital for the events.