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AGCRA Mount Rainier Chapter

Fishing event brings community together

Northwest Guardian

Published: 12:07PM May 10th, 2018

Northwest Guardian

Sgt. Byron Savage works on a rod extension as he and his team prepare for the AGCRA Fishing Tournament at Russell Landing on Joint Base Lewis-McChord Saturday.

AGCRA-Mount Rainier Chapter’s Fishing Tournament — Saturday at Russell Landing, Lewis North

Five Largest Fish — 1) Team Fish and Chips, 5 pounds, 13 ounces; 2) Team Los Abuelos, 5 pounds, 13 ounces; 3) Team Fatheree, 5 pounds, 10 ounces

Largest Trout — Team Bressler, 2 pounds, 2 ounces

Smallest Trout — Team Irish Wake, 4 ounces

Largest kokanee — Team Rufus Beard, 1 pound, 7 ounces

Smallest kokanee — Team Salmonbarry, 15 ounces

Most Team Weight — Team Fish and Chips, 15 pounds, 5 ounces (20 fish caught)

Byron Savage, a sergeant with the 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Field Artillery Brigade on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, doesn’t usually get a lot of sleep on the weekends. While most peers may choose to catch up on rest after the workweek, Savage wakes up early to go fishing.

When he heard about the Adjutant General Corps Regimental Association-Mount Rainier Chapter’s fishing tournament Saturday at JBLM’s Russell Landing, he said he wanted to take the opportunity to fish with other service members and veterans on American Lake.

For Savage, it’s not just a challenge to catch the biggest trout or kokanee; it’s a chance to get away.

“It’s really peaceful (on the lake),” Savage said. “(Fishing) lets me detach and take a moment from work.”

A total of 28 teams joined the tournament, with more than 80 fishing enthusiasts looking to collect kokanee and trout in American Lake.

In addition to being a fundraiser for the chapter, the event is also a rare opportunity to compete in a fishing tournament without having to travel far. A similar tournament took place Saturday in Lake Chelan, Wash., — more than 200 miles away from the JBLM area.

Captain Thomas Beecroft, of Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, I Corps, coordinated the tournament to bring a fishing event closer to the military community.

“I participated in bass tournaments when I was stationed in the South, so I thought it would be fun,” Beecroft said.

The tournament brought service members, veterans and civilians to the lake with a common interest.

“It’s about bringing people out fishing,” said retired Army Lt. Col. Mark Keith, Global Force manager for I Corps. “It introduces (service members) to the sport of fishing, which I think is declining.”

Although the sport is not as popular as it once was, there are still service members who grew up with a fishing rod in their hands. Sergeant Uriah Walker, of the 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, started with his family when he was 2 years old, and he didn’t mind getting out of his comfort zone a little during the tournament.

“For me, fishing has always been (a way) to get away from other people,” Walker said. “Fishing tournaments are the opposite of what I usually do, but I’m not going to pass up the opportunity.”

Due to lake restrictions, the AGCRA-Mount Rainier Chapter’s fishing tournament can only yield a maximum of 35 teams. Beecroft hopes to expand the tournament in conjunction with a family fun day where kids will have a chance to try fishing.

“If I can give back to the military and civilian communities, that’s great,” Beecroft said. “The lake is what bridges both (military and civilian) communities together.”

Dean Siemon: 253-477-0235, @deansiemon