Fishing for Freedom reels in more than 100 veterans

Fishing for Freedom on the Quincy riverfront

The Quincy riverfront was flooded with boats, but this fishing tournament had a very select list of qualifiers.

Fishing for Freedom was for veterans and wounded warriors.

"We started off at 4 o'clock in the morning and loaded everything up and went to all his special places. We sat in the same spot by a tree that was in the water back in the cut and tied off 250 lb. test line to the boat and that's how we caught the big ones," Karl Newman, a retired Marine said.

Newman said he is not really an avid fisherman, but he drove in from Peoria for the tournament and ended up winning big for his 50 plus pounds of catfish.

One organizer for the event says the fishing is just a ploy.

"It's about the fishing for those guys when they're out on the water, but we use the fishing as a way to get them here so we can honor them." Dave Ulrich, who serves on the board for Fishing for Freedom, said.

Veterans were up early to hit the river. When they made it back to Clat Adams park around noon, supporters were waiting to welcome them.

"I can think of no better event or reason to sponsor anything in this town than the warriors and veterans who let us enjoy a day like today," Robert Guteaunst, who was a sponsor for the weekend, said.

While fish were weighed in from each boat, veterans had their names announced and they were cheered on by the crowds.

"We're here to support them and we hope they do good," Paige Womvles said. Paige came out with her parents and sister to help honor the men and women who served. Despite her young age, she says she thinks it is very important to thank veterans.

"It's awesome for the community to come out and support the veterans and honor us. I just hope it doesn't stop for all the rest of the troops who come home," Newman said.

Newman ended up with two large catfish, one of which won him first place for individual weight, and several smaller fish that helped him win total weight as well.