SOUTH PORTLAND — When Harvey Weinstein saw a news report about a man who had taken two soldiers fishing in a little canoe, he was touched by the joy the experience brought to the veterans.
“They stepped off that boat grinning ear-to-ear with the fish they had just caught,” he said.
Now Weinstein, along with a group of others, will host the first annual Veteran’s Appreciation Fishing Tournament Aug. 1 at Port Harbor Marine in South Portland. The tournament is a volunteer collaboration between Port Harbor Marine and the Military Family Assistance of Maine.
Weinstein, the project coordinator, said he currently has 25 captains who have volunteered to take veterans out fishing that day.
But he said the group needs more volunteer captains to step forward, so more veterans can be served. Organizers are looking for boats 20 feet or longer.
“We really don’t want to turn anyone away,” he said. “I think people want give something back to veterans, but they don’t know how. This is one way to do it.”
The entry-fee-free tournament will take veterans to fishing spots within the harbor and, for the more daring, 12 miles off shore. There will be several gag trophies presented, he said, ranging from biggest fish to ugliest fish to best fishing story.
Weinstein said dozens of people have already signed up to volunteer, whether it’s captaining a boat or donating tackle and fuel.
Veterans who return with their catch will be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor. A Westbrook restaurant has agreed to whip up homemade American beer batter, so fish can be filleted, coated and deep-fried on the spot. There will also be a traditional cookout at the end of the day-long event.
Anyone with a boat who is interested in taking veterans out fishing in Aug. 1 should contact Weinstein at 773-2135 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Veterans who would like to fish may also contact Kerry Birmingham at (888) 365-9287 or email@example.com. Participation is on a first-come, first-serve basis.
“Even if we get one more boat, that will allow us to take out three or four more veterans,” he said.