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The mission: Fishin'

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jose L. Hernandez
  • Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs
Whether it's for the thrill of the catch or for the enjoyment of the greater outdoors, fishing has become an all-American pastime for families all across the country.

This year, the best military anglers in the country gathered at Lewis Smith Lake in Jasper, Ala. to take part in the 22nd annual American Bass Anglers Military Team Bass Championship.

At the championship, military fishermen had the opportunity to fish for bragging rights and a trip to fish the legendary lakes created by bass fishing icon and owner of the Trophy Bass Retreat, Ray Scott.

Active duty military, Coast Guard members, Department of Defense civilians and contractors, retired military members, honorably discharged veterans, and military family members at least 16 years old were allowed to participate.

After three days of fishing, the team with the largest bag won a four-day fishing adventure to Ray Scott's Trophy Bass Retreat. The legendary trophy bass lakes offered two lucky anglers the opportunity to fish in the wake of presidents, first ladies and fishing superstars like Kevin Van Dam, Rick Clunn, Roland Martin and Bill Dance - all amidst 200 acres of live oak, Spanish moss and whitetail deer, courtesy of Early Times Kentucky Whisky.

In addition, a seven-day vacation to any destination in the world served by the Armed Forces Vacation Club was raffled in a drawing. Other high-placing tournament finishers received cash prizes based upon the total number of entries.

In attendance at the competition was Master Sgt. Danny Christ, from Minot Air Force Base's 5th Logistics Readiness Squadron, who has been fishing since he was just a young boy.

"I grew up fishing with my dad and grandfather," said Danny. "They both fished tournaments but had two different styles of fishing. My father was a power angler and my grandfather was real slow and methodical. I learned from both and created my own style."

Danny explained that his father and grandfather both lived on a lake, so he was lucky enough to get to fish all the time.

The championship this year was Danny's fourth one; he has competed the past three years in a row.

Danny has such a devotion to fishing that during last year's competition, he had just returned from deployment three days before the contest began, which gave him just enough time make the drive to the tournament.

"One of my best stories from these tournaments happened in Lake Eufaula in South Alabama," Danny said. "I was throwing a Strike King Rag Tail Shad on 65 pound braid. As I was reeling it through the grass, a four-foot gator came out of nowhere and grabbed it. I fought the gator all the way back to the boat thinking about how tasty gator nuggets were until it got to the boat and was biting at the trolling motor."

In that moment, Danny explained he pulled out his cutters and clipped the line. The gator however, proceeded to follow them for approximately 15 minutes.

"I am guessing he was a little ticked," stated Danny. "My wife, Virginia, who is also my fishing partner, very calmly videotaped the whole encounter.

His wife, Tech. Sgt. Virginia Christ, who serves under the 5th Security Forces Squadron at Minot AFB, was also in attendance at the competition.

"When I was younger my dad took me fishing a few times," Virginia said. "Then when I grew up we didn't get a chance to go that often, so when I joined the military I decided I was going to learn how to fish all over again."

One of the things Virginia likes about fishing is the relaxation and the enjoyment of being outdoors.

"There is a certain calm about being on the lake," Virginia explained. "But the best feeling in the world is when you feel that bite on the end of your line."

(Excerpts from American Bass Anglers contributed to this story)