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Fish Out of Water – Ozzy Delgado

Late summer Bass fishing can be a little frustrating. This is the time of year when afternoon storms creep up out of nowhere and can ruin your time on the water, but not today.

I recently got invited to spend the day out fishing with Terry Allen Sturgeon, owner of T Allen Rods, Captain Neal Stark, founder of Fishing with America’s Finest and his son Jake Stark, who we will someday see and read about in the Bass tournament circuit. Twice a week Captain Neal takes time off from his job to take veterans out for a stress-free day out on the water. He founded Fishing with America’s Finest in 2009 as non-profit aimed at serving those who have served in the military. 

“It’s something I started as a way to give back and pay it forward to the men and women that defend this country,” said Stark.

The plan was to meet at Neal’s house and drive to Alligator Alley and launch from one of several ramps in the area. Like most seasoned pros, he had us up for an early start to the day. As we were greeted with a gorgeous sunrise, we quickly un-hitched the boats and then it was a white knuckled ride to the fishing grounds. Bass boats, I was reminded, are built for getting from point A to B in a very short amount of time, and we soon made our way to an undisclosed location deep into the sawgrass. (If I said where, I could become alligator bait.)

Terry, who organized our trip, brought a film crew to document the day’s action and the performance of his awesome rods.

Not a freshwater angler myself, my casting ability around weeds, lily pads and fallen tree limbs was less than stellar. It sounded simple enough, but I kept asking Neal to make his way towards the branches to retrieve my line.

“These saltwater anglers!” he replied in mock desperation. I’m just glad Neal is a patient man, and as it turns out, a pretty good teacher when it comes to working baits in this environment.

“Let the rod to the work” he said, coaching me. It’s like golf with the club doing the job. I was casting underhand–a habit from fishing around mangroves–and had to learn a better overhand style.

Soon we were in the fish and releasing bass one after the other. After a few quick pictures we made our run to an even more secluded area and found more success. As we kept fishing throughout the day, this pattern repeated itself and the only hiccup was avoiding isolated rain storms that kept popping up. But in the process we swapped fishing tales and became well acquainted with both Neal’s organization. The work Neal does and the passion he has for our military guys and gals is amazing. In my book, it makes him one of the heros of our industry.

I was also impressed with the gear Terry brought on the trip. His Wave Series custom rods feature Doug Hannon’s “Microwave Guide System” and are mounted on a 100% carbon fiber blanks. I was outfitted with 7’3” 10-20 medium heavy combo, which was paired with a WaveSpin Legend 250 spinning reel. It was effortless to cast, gave outstanding distance and was strong enough to haul in the biggest catch of the day, a broken log.

We proved that these rods not only are beautiful, casts effortless, casts longer, but strong enough to even pull broken logs. Whether you are a seasoned pro or weekend warrior, I highly recommend you should check them out.

It was a great day out on the water, and perhaps it was someone upstairs who really made sure it didn’t rain on us–or more importantly–the camera guys. A big THANKS to Terry Allen Sturgeon for putting this together and Captain Neal Stark for putting us on the fish.

For more info on how you can donate and support Fishing with America’s Finest, please visit www.FishingwithAmericasFinest.org. For more info on how you can purchase T Allen Rods, please visit www.tallenrods.com

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