At 3:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, July 13 — guess where John O’Reilly was?
Steilacoom’s Topside Bar & Grill owner, was in the kitchen whipping up pancake batter to feed a crowd of bass fishermen scheduled to show up at Russell Landing on JBLM later that morning for Evergreen Bass Club’s 5th annual outing, known as, “Fishing with America’s Warriors.”
Definitely a glorious day for fishing!
John’s involvement happened because, conveniently, he’s on the top floor of the Pt. Steilacoom Building; three floors up from the Edward Jones office where Al Lewis, the Bass Club’s Event Coordinator, has his office.
About three weeks earlier, as so often happens in this premiere waterfront community when folks gather to chat, one thing led to another. The next thing John knew he volunteered to provide food for the Saturday outing.
After making several phone calls, John lined up his food suppliers; Al recruited fellow Steilacoom Kiwanians, including John Inselman, Bob Mize, Harley Moberg, Ron and Jan Lucas, Doug Wing, George Phillips, etc., to provide people power, and the weekend fishing tourney was soon underway.
Hungry fishermen that morning chowed down on pancakes, sausages, coffee, cheese Danishes, etc. Besides making the pancake batter, O’Reilly also whipped up some pretty tasty root beer floats.
From 7:30 a.m. until noon, 30 warriors (representing all the services) and their families fished the length and breadth of American Lake—casting and catching trout, bass, and more.
According to O’Reilly, the largest fish caught that day was a bass that weighed 4-1/2 lbs.—a weight that would surely make one long-time lake fisherman, *Louis Raphael, really jealous.
Raffle winners—everyone went home with something extra—such as an Eastern Washington pheasant hunting trip, a spa massage, to Jim Earl’s famous fisherman’s survival kit.
“Everyone wants to win that, so this year, we held it until last,” Lewis explained.
Earl, a three-time Vietnam veteran, creates a new kit every year. It’s a complete outdoorsman’s survival outfit that includes a knife, rod and reel combo, tackle box, sleeping bag and survival kit.
There also were commemorative T-shirts, designed by Charles Davis of BluRoom Advertising. Larry Olson, of Rainier Apparel, had the shirts made up “at little or no cost to the bass club,” Lewis said. A big ‘Thanks,’ too, to Ed Sakai who captured the action on film.
Details for the event came together pretty quickly—within about two weeks’ time, O’Reilly continued.
“But no one can do this without a lot of help. For something such as this people stepped up to help make it happen and make it a memorable occasion.”
“This event was created five years ago,” Lewis added promising that, “it will continue for one purpose and one purpose only. It’s a short half a day of fishing on the water, sponsored by the Evergeen Bass Club; just a short day for these brave young men and women who continue to serve every day to keep our great country free.”
* “They’re In There,” a memoir by Tacoma resident Louis Raphael, recounts his American Lake fishing experiences from his 14th summer, when he helped his grandfather at the boathouse.
The book, regretfully, is out of print, but there is a single copy available at the Lakewood Historical Society. A great summer read!