The History Behind Walleyes for Warriors
Nels Larsen - Founder of Walleyes for Warriors
Avid Saginaw Bay walleye fisherman and Vietnam Veteran (1968-1970)
Walleyes for Warriors was founded by Nels Larsen, an avid Saginaw Bay walleye fisherman and Vietnam veteran (1968-1970). The idea for Walleyes for Warriors came from a similar veteran's fishing event Nels attended in Manistee, Michigan called Tight Lines for Troops. It was such an emotional day, a "Welcome Home" experience many vets didn't get to experience when they returned home from war. Nels wanted to be able to have other vets experience the same thing. That's where the idea for Walleyes for Warriors began. Nels has since transitioned the event to Bay City Elks Lodge #88. We are honored to present this event for our area veterans. Saginaw Bay is an exceptional walleye fishery and we want to be able to share this experience with our veterans.
A free recreational therapy event such as this is a small way for us to not only say "Welcome Home," but also "Thank You" for serving our country. It gives the veterans a way to connect with each other. Many of us have been so blessed to be able to go out fishing over the years, but knowing that is not the case for many of our veterans, we saw this as a way to bring the thrill of walleye fishing in the Saginaw Bay to those who otherwise wouldn't be able to do so. The boaters, many who are veterans themselves, generously give of their boats, gas and time.
The response from the volunteers and donors has been remarkable. The experience has been as moving for them as it has been for the veterans who have attended! It started with wanting to offer to other veterans an experience similar to the one Nels had. It has grown to an event provided to our veterans by countless others, each giving of themselves in a special way. The total experience including fishing, prizes, food, camaraderie among the vets and a program that can be emotionally moving at times, provides a day like none other for many of these servicemen and women.