May Date Set for Alaska Fishing Tournament Honoring Middle East War Veterans

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Veterans and their families and friends can set aside May 21st to participate or cheer a huge halibut fishing tournament organized to thank Alaska's Iraq and Afghan war veterans.

Veterans and their families and friends can set aside May 21st to participate or cheer a huge halibut fishing tournament organized to thank Alaska's Iraq and Afghan war veterans.

"We have the vessels lined up to salute to our troops with an excursion," says Rob Hyslip, owner of Bear Country Fishing, which operates out of Homer. "I'm taking out both of my boats," Hyslip points out. "It's a privilege to have 12 folks who fought for my freedom competing from Bear Force I and II."

More than 40 chartered and private vessels from three Cook Inlet communities will participate in the Alaska Veterans Halibut Fishing Tournament, according to Hyslip. Organizers believe they will be able to select a total of 500 veterans to vie for hooking the largest halibut.

"This is our first, but we plan to do this every year," Hyslip adds. "Alaska fishing charter operators feel honored to set aside business competition to take our soldiers on the ultimate fishing competition. With an annual event, think of how many of our brave troops we can salute and serve!"

Veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, and Desert Storm in Iraq can still register to participate on a website, http://www.akvft.org. The initials in the web address stand for Alaska Veterans Fishing Tournament. Organizers expect a random drawing in April to select participants.

"I can't wait to see how much they enjoy going after our legendary big halibut," Hyslip enthuses. "We catch 'em big all of the time in our waters. It will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many of our veterans."

The communities of Homer, Whittier and Valdez are engaged in ensuring the "day of giving back" is a success. Lodges, cabins, and bed-and-breakfast inns are offering reduced rates for participants. National and local businesses provided sponsorship support, and donations have been welcomed from individuals hoping to add their voice.

For media inquiries, contact Rob Hyslip at 907-745-0830

http://www.bighalibut.com

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