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Last summer I put together an all veteran tournament team for the Washington Tuna Classic. I looked at it as a way to get some vets out on the water and give them a chance to be competitive. I was shocked when we took 14th overall. Over the winter I thought about the mistakes I had made that day as a captain and how we could have done better. I had a feeling that we had a chance at the top 3 if I had pushed them a little more, ran a little further and fished a little harder. I started trying to seek sponsors for a 2018 all veteran tournament team in the spring with hopes of taking these heros to all 3 tuna classics. I was amazed, I reached out to every contact I had in the industry and no one stepped up to help these vets get to all 3. I had decided we would fish the Washington Tuna Classic again and out of my own pocket. The day I was leaving on my boat from ilwaco heading to Westport the president and vice president of the Ilwaco Tuna Club told me they wanted to help! They cut us a check, and gave each team member a shirt. It was amazing to me that with all the veteran based organizations, and patriotic people in the fishing world the only people to step up and help these vets was my family at the tuna club. My deckhand had an emergency and had to leave last minute putting me in a real pinch, because none of these heros were experienced tuna fishermen. I stayed up almost all night Friday looking at satilite shots, water temps, and chlorophyll shots. I maybe slept an hour. The next day fishing was slow and we were all alone, I felt maybe I had made a mistake and considered moving locations. I decided to stay with the plan I had put together. Our first chance at fish wasn’t until 10 am, and we broke off more than we caught, our second chance was a couple hours later and once again we broke off more than we caught. After that we had 5 fish to weigh and they were good size fish, but I knew they wouldn’t get us on the podium. We set troll rods back out and I went to the helm to ask Brandon to troll back through the spot we just hooked those fish and almost like we knew what we were doing rods started going off. Once again we lost some fish but decked 3 more big albacore, with us being 70ish miles from port I knew we needed to start heading in. The wind had picked up in the afternoon and made for a little bit bumpy ride in, but the one thing I love about my boat is she chews right through 3 foot wind chop, we passed multiple boats on the way back in. After listening to people chatter on the radio I felt we had done ok, maybe middle of the pack. Jason and I brought our fish up to the weight station and noticed everyone gawking at our catch, people started telling us it was the best load they had seen. At this moment it occurred to me that my father had been waiting for me at every weigh in of every tournament I had ever fished. This was my first tournament since he passed. We had high hopes to be in the top 3 teams but we didn’t make it. Out of the 58 teams of amazing fishermen (and fisherwomen) my group of veterans took 5th place. I was crushed, I had to walk out of the awards ceremony for a couple minutes, I thought to myself “you could have done better”. Then I seen 2 of my vets that met the day before hugging each other with huge smiles on their faces. I guess I got lost in the sillyness of it all. I am very proud and honored to have fished the only all veteran team in the tournament, and I am ecstatic that we placed in the top 5. I am very proud to call myself a member of the Ilwaco Tuna Club, and I can’t wait to fish the tournaments next year with these vets.