Strangers Become Friends

Strangers Become Friends
The Big Bass Award was in memory of Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller.

Warriors on the Water taking military members fishing since 2006

CHATHAM COUNTY, N.C. – With the command to start engines, more than 150 high-speed bass boats turned the peaceful waters of Jordan Lake here into a churning mass of white foam.

Each boat carried a military service member from across North Carolina during the 7th annual Warriors on the Water Military Appreciation Bass Fishing Tournament. They were all hoping to claim the top prizes in the tournament that honors military members for their service but in the end, they came away with much more.

Three retired Desert Storm veterans who wanted to show their appreciation to the men and women who are still serving started the tournament in 2006.

“It’s not just about the fishing to win,” said Hal Abshire, Warriors on the Water president.

He said the military members “feel more relaxed out on the water” and will talk with their fishing partners, some of who are military veterans themselves.

“This is a great way to say ‘Thank you’,” he said. “This tournament costs the military nothing.”

Three Army Reserve Command headquarters personnel were some of the lucky ones chosen to participate.

Master Sgts. Anthony Garner, Kenneth Skinner, and LeRoy Tousant spent the day hoping to land a big winner.

But for the trio and the rest of the competitors, even having an experienced angler in the boat didn’t make that many fish fill up their livewells in the boats.

“I was excited!” Skinner said. “I couldn’t wait to show up for this. Even though we didn’t catch very many fish we were out there on the water flipping the rod and we had a great time.”

Like many fish stories, Skinner, and his partner, Brad Kimrey, had a “big one that got away.”

“It was cool to turn around and see his rod bent about halfway over … and him not knowing what was going on until that big one jumped out of the water,” Kimrey said. “Unfortunately, it jumped off about halfway to the boat.”

Tousant and his partner Richard Jensen landed two keepers totaling a little more than nine pounds.

“He (Richard) told me to just keep throwing and be consistent and don’t give up,” Tousant said.

For Garner, he said his day couldn’t have gotten any better – well, maybe if had caught some fish.

“The sun was shining, the water was smooth, it was a good day,” Garner said with a wide grin. “Unfortunately, we did not catch one fish, but we had a good time.”

Besides being on the water and trying to land a trophy fish, the program provided the soldiers something perhaps a little more lasting – the opportunity to build new friendships.

“It’s a fun time,” Tousant said. “Strangers become friends.”

For more information about Warriors on the Water, visit their website at

Recommended for You


Find and Fish Bluegill Beds Efficiently

Terry Madewell - May 22, 2019

You can catch bluegill faster with these strategies.


How to Fish Bottom Bouncers for Walleye

Mark Sak - May 23, 2019

While misunderstood by some, fishing bottom bouncers can be a very productive technique for...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Lowrance Enters Trolling-Motor Market with Ghost

Lowrance's Lucas Steward shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead what all of the fuss is about in the brand new Ghost trolling motor being brought to market by the Tulsa, Okla.-based fishing equipment manufacturer.

MLF BPT angler and former Classic champ Casey Ashley has been with Costa del Mar sunglasses his whole career. At ICAST 2019, he shows OSG writer Lynn Burkhead some new products and talks how to pick the right lens color for the water.

New Abu Garcia Baitcasting Reels

In the booth of one of fishing's all-time great reel makers, Outdoor Sportsman Group writer Lynn Burkhead and Andrew Wheeler of Pure Fishing discuss one of the brand new baitcasting reels from Abu Garcia being released at ICAST 2019.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories


Upon Further Review: 70-Year-Old Catfish Record Voided

G&F Online Staff - May 22, 2019

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish.


10 Best Long-Range Cartridges Ever Made

David Hart - January 14, 2015

Want to test the outer limits of your shooting skill? There's more to successful long-range


10 Biggest Catfish World Records of All Time

Jack Vitek - December 08, 2014

Unless you live in Antarctica, the only continent they aren't known to inhabit, there is a...

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.