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Seniors and Veterans Out and About in the Twin Cities--Fishing!

2024 has brought us some very early warm weather and according to the fishing experts the prospect of a great fishing opener!  It must be time for an Out and About Twin Cities to look at getting seniors and veterans on the water!  

Senior Fishing from the Shore

Shore Fishing

Fishing from shore can be a good choice for seniors with mobility issues. We found this vintage shoreline guide from 1992. The guide is still remarkably accurate today in terms of where to fish.  It's also a fun nostalgic look back at a simpler time.   According to the guide, few metro areas in the country have as much wheelchair access to good fishing as the Twin Cities. Fishing piers paved paths, and lots of water give anglers with any disability plenty of opportunities to go fishing. Each of the 23 lakes and rivers listed in this guide is rated on the following scale for people with physical disabilities:

  1. Excellent, wheelchairs have complete and easy access to the water's edge. A fishing pier or deck is available.
  2. Fair-Hard, level grass or dirt bank leading to the water's edge. Depending on their ability, some wheelchair users may need help getting to the water.
 3. Poor-Steep or uneven shoreline is difficult to traverse in wheelchairs.

This is a 1992 guide so the pricing and rules of fishing may have changed!  For instance, in 1992 the cost of the fishing license was about half of 2024.


Fishing from a Boat

There are several ways to enjoy fishing without having to struggle into that old fishing boat--which can be a challenge for some seniors.  Pontoons are generally a much better option with the ability to step straight off the dock onto a flat surface.  If you aren’t fortunate enough to have a friend or family member with a pontoon you can find them for rent at various locations around the metro.  For instance, Captain Shawn’s rentals in Chisago City have nice pontoons available for six or 10 passengers, half or full day.  Another option for White Bear Lake would be Tally’s Dockside.   

If you rent a boat make sure it’s accessible for your situation.  If you are wheelchair-bound, the boat will need a wider access gate and a ramp to make access safer.  In rougher water, you may want to have tie-downs available for the wheelchair.  

Veteran’s Outdoors–Band of Brothers 

Comfort Keepers RN, Ole Nettestad told me about Band of Brothers, a group he volunteers and shares time out on the water.  This nonprofit group hosts events aimed at providing veterans and active duty service members with opportunities to experience the physical, emotional, and social benefits of recreational therapy.  They provide these opportunities through a range of activities that include hunting and fishing in many formats.  If you are interested check out the upcoming events and sign up.  Pretty simple process and they will confirm your reservation.   

According to Ole, Vets are responsible for licenses and getting to the event, often there is an opportunity to carpool.  Event leaders may have food and socializing options figured out to encourage fellowship.  These tend to be very memorable trips!

Veterans On The Water

In 2016, Steve Gillaspie (Vietnam Veteran) started Veterans on the Water from Arlington, MN. The goal is to create a FREE fishing experience of excitement, fun, and laughter for Veterans.  All of their boats have been rebuilt specifically to accommodate special needs plus custom designs and features of red, white, and blue!  They own all the boats used on their fishing trips. The fleet includes 16′ Lund boats, pontoons with wheelchair accessibility, and an Ice House!   Offering several single-day fishing trips and some extended weekend fishing trips with no cost to Vets. Veterans on the Water has two wheelchair-accessible buses to transport any Veteran to any fishing trip.  Once you are at the boat they have a lift to help Veterans in wheelchairs and mobility concerns transport from land to the Pontoon.  Their pontoons have built-in toilets that can be used during fishing trips.  Their calendar starts to get busy in June, so let them know if you’re interested!                             

Get out there and enjoy fishing with your favorite seniors and veterans!


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