HSV Anglers and Baitcasters Clubs Honor Military at Lake Balboa Fishing Tournament

For 14 years straight, Hot Springs Village Anglers Club, in conjunction with the Village Baitcasters Club, has hosted an always highly-anticipated Military Fishing Tournament. On the morning of May 17, twenty-nine young airmen from Little Rock Airforce Base and two from the Tennessee Air National Guard were matched with a Hot Springs Village fisherman and taken out on Lake Balboa to see who could catch the biggest fish.

Near the first flush of the day, two to three-person teams launched watercraft, returning hours later after having an experience like no other, maybe having developed a budding love of fishing, and most certainly in possession of a catch weighed by Lakes Supervisor Katy Harmon. After weighing in, the catch was then released back into the lake.

When Board Director Gary Belair announced at the conclusion of the May 17 Board meeting that Angler Jerry Gilmore notified him that his son Colonel Garrett Gilmore of the Tennessee Air National Guard, was performing a flyover at the Military Fishing Tournament at noon, many in the audience knew this special event was not one to miss. Piloting a C-17, Gilmore was on a training mission and wanted to pay tribute to the event and his fellow service members. May 17 marked the first time there was a flyover at the tournament.

After spending the morning on the water, the teams were treated to a feast prepared by Altrusa, HSV. Angler Darryl Geiken shared that a co-worker of his, Joe LaMarca, Vice-president of Communications at Fort Worth Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, personally donated $1,500 last year and $2,000 this year to pay for the tasty spread. The ladies of Altrusa HSV provided home-baked desserts and served bbq pork, potato salad, and beans. The airmen received a gift card and were encouraged to take leftover desserts home.

The event took months of planning and was organized by Angler Dave Keith. Keith said, “This year was our largest group. This is our small way of thanking the airmen for their service.”

Ronnie Weaver, Life Net Director of Operations, Hot Springs Village Division, provided nine of this year’s boats. “Without the help of Ronnie, we wouldn’t have enough boats. They do a great job. In addition, a lot of other Village volunteers helped. That is the key to a successful event,” explained Keith.

The mother of Corporal Gilmore, Christi Gilmore, was on site to provide golf cart chauffeur service and to witness the proud moment as her son flew overhead.

Expressing his appreciation, Paul Garner, Tennessee National Guard Airman, enthusiastically said, “I loved it! This was awesome!”

Supervisor Harmon said, “Military Fishing Day is an event I look forward to every year. I love seeing so many boats, anglers, and airmen get together for a day just to fish. I am honored that the Anglers Club allows me to contribute by weighing in fish and letting Lakes Management be a part of this special day. Thank you to everyone who put in the time and effort to make this event happen; it couldn’t have turned out any better!” 

HSVPOA Lakes Superintendent Todd Noles said the fishing clubs provide many beneficial services, such as assisting Lakes Supervisor Katy Harmon, installing fish habitats, and organizing tournaments. Noles said, “Their work is a perfect example of volunteerism in the Village.”

Airman Jesus Garcia with biggest catch at 2.6 pounds

By Cheryl Dowden; Altrusa HSV lineup photo provided by Diane Bielanski; other photography and videography by Joe Dowden