Vets take R&R with rods and reels

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Dan Smart of Standish, center, organized the veterans fishing outing held by the Sebago Lake Anglers Association on May 10. He fished with veterans Richard Mears of Harpswell, right, and Steve Jarrett of Wiscasset. 

CASCO — The Sebago Lake Anglers Association organized a fishing outing for local veterans this week as part of their ongoing community service efforts. 

The group attempted to host an event with veterans once before, but didn’t get much interest, said Bob Chapin, president of the association. That was not the case on Wednesday, with veterans and volunteers coming from towns around the Lakes Region and beyond – including Raymond, Standish, Windham, Harpswell, Sanford and Wiscasset. 

“It’s a good way to get out and have some fellowship. Some of these guys kind of miss that fellowship of the military,” said veteran Brian Lovering of New Gloucester. “It’s nice to have these get-togethers and be able to relax, decompress, forget about some of your issues for the day and focus on catching some fish.” 

Lovering, who served in the Marine Corps from 1980-1995 and now works at the Pape Auto Group in South Portland, said he found out about the event through the Vet Center in Portland. 

“I love work, don’t get me wrong. But if I’ve got a choice between going to work and going fishing, I’m going fishing every time,” Lovering said.

A total of 16 local veterans were expected to participate, with two to a boat. Several anglers association members and other volunteers provided their boats and their time as captains for the event.

Seven of the eight boats met early Wednesday morning at the Sebago Lake State Park boat launch in Casco. The other boat fished Upper Range Pond in Poland and its crew planned to meet the rest of the group in Casco for lunch. 

Andrea Tolbert, an Army veteran who works at the Portland Vet Center, said she had participated in similar events before. Her favorite part about these events is “hanging out with fellow veterans,” she said.

Charles McMeekin of Sanford volunteered his time for the event after his fiancee’s father, anglers association member David Kent of Standish, asked him to help out. McMeekin said he was happy to support the veterans, even if he wasn’t captaining a boat. 

“I’m just a Gilligan,” McMeekin said with a laugh. 

Before heading out on the lake a little after 8 a.m. the group enjoyed doughnuts and coffee courtesy of Dunkin Donuts. Walmart helped cover the bill for the group’s lunch once they returned from fishing. 

As he pushed off from the dock at the boat launch, anglers association member and event organizer Dan Smart said the day is all about “having fun.” 

“Catching fish is minor,” he said with a smile. 

Matt Junker can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or mjunker@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @MattJunker.

Dan Smart of Standish, center, organized the veterans fishing outing held by the Sebago Lake Anglers Association on May 10. He fished with veterans Richard Mears of Harpswell, right, and Steve Jarrett of Wiscasset. 

From left to right: Sebago Lake Anglers Association President Bob Chapin with veterans Bernie Lovering and Andrea Tolbert. 

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