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Florida Sportsman's Fishing for Fighters

Fishing for Fighters brings major players in the recreational fishing industry together to empower America's returning war vets and individuals battling illnesses like cancer.

Wounded Warrior, Retired Corporal Chris Langston - USMC. Chris was injured a few years back in Iraq when his HumVee was damaged with an IED bomb.

Florida Sportsman, Yamaha Marine, Costa Del Mar, and the Guy Harvey Foundation together announced the “Fishing for Warriors” contest on June 13, 2013, an ongoing Florida-based initiative that welcomes home returning U.S. warriors by hosting them on recreational fishing trips on Florida waters.

Trying a new approach, “Fishing for Fighters” unites returning war veterans and cancer patients with volunteer anglers who will take these strong fighters out for a day's fishing, fresh air, and healthy exercise as a personal welcome home and thank you for their service.

For more information, contact

Far From Home Fishing

January 2020

Young Jesse Watson and his dad Kyle are far from there frozen home in Canada. Most days they probably only think about how much longer they'll be stuck here, and how awful Jesse's cancer treatments can be.

Today, Kyle and Jesse joined Josh Green and I aboard "The Seven". Jesse battled more red snapper, sea bass, and sharks than we could count. We were even visited by an ocean sunfish, and a huge Thresher Shark during the day.

Tomorrow will be what it will be, but for today, I can promise you, Jesse's proton treatments seemed a million miles away.

Jesse's trip was part of Florida Sportsman's "Fishing with Fighters" program made possible by Yamaha and The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation.

-Rick Ryals

Inshore Hour

January 2020

Tuesday was a great day for Florida Sportsman's “Fishing With Fighters” program. While I was offshore with 11 year old Jesse, Capt David Borries was back in the creeks with 19 yr old Jackson.

Jackson has difficulties that kept him from joining us offshore. The things you and I take for granted, and complain about constantly, are a dream for Jackson at this point.

I'm so thankful for Capt David Borries who joyfully takes our fighters fishing even if they are only able to handle one hour on the water, and one 28” redfish.

God bless Jackson and Capt David.

Fishing with fighters is made possible by Yamaha and “The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation”.

-Rick Ryals

Trout Smackdown

November 2019

Meet my new buddy Kestrel Snyder. He is a guest at the Proton Center. Today Zeke Mears and I got to watch him and his Mom Naomi put the smack down on some beautiful trout. We then went and ate the fruit of our labors at “The Palms”.

Kestrel was fishing as a guest of Florida Sportsman's “ Fishing with Fighters” program made possible by Yamaha and The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation.

-Rick Ryals

Red Snapper for Raihan

November 2019

Just as I expected the fish stood little chance against a fighter as tough as 7 yr old Raihan yesterday. He and his family are in our city so Raihan can fight it out against a different foe.

Capt. Dennis Young snuck out yesterday before the weather changed to get Raihan a good workout on some poor red snapper.

Raihan fished as part of Florida Sportsman's “ Fishing With Fighters” program. Mom has promised to return next year with a healthy 8 year old so he smack down some fish with me aboard “ The Seven”

“Fishing with Fighters” is possible because of Yamaha, and “The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation”

-Rick Ryals

Brotherly Bonding

November 2018

Dean's oldest son, 16 yr old Josh is sick. I know he and his other 2 son's Ollie and Jack wish they were back in the UK getting ready for Christmas. I can't help with any of that, but thanks to my buddy "Mudminnow Tim" and my wonderful boat "The Seven" we were able to get them a few hours of thinking about nothing but watching their corks go down. The proton center was miles away while we caught trout after trout yesterday. Jack caught the biggest and Ollie caught the first.

Their trips were made possible through Florida Sportsman's "Fishing with Fighters" program. The program is only possible through the support of Yamaha, and The Guy Harvey Ocean foundation.

We have fished over 50 UK fishermen since we started the program. We have asked them all at the end of their trip, whether fishing their "glamour species" the mighty carp, was better, or fishing in Florida. The score is 50 to NOTHING. Guess who wins!

I can't wait until Josh is healthy enough to join us aboard "The Seven".

-Rick Ryals

Rough Reds

October 2018

A little rough ocean isn't about to keep our "Fishing with Fighters" Captains from getting our warriors out for a day on the water. Captains Eddie Smith and Jeremy Thurne hosted 26 year Air Force Master Sergeant Melvin Lolola, Sergeant Jonathon Cavalea, Army Staff Sergeant Baub Hulsey and his dad for some non-stop redfish action.

We will never be able to thank our heroes for our precious freedoms, but we will never stop trying to show the gratitude of a free people.

"Fishing with Fighters" is only possible through the patriotism of the volunteer Captains, Yamaha, and "The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation."

-Rick Ryals

Not Today Cancer

September 2018

Allen and his family are waging a war no teenager should ever have to fight. His siblings, as any family who has ever had to fight such a battle will attest, are in it every day with him. But for just one glorious day the battle shifted to a street fight aboard Captain Dennis Young's Sea Dancer, against some of the toughest kingfish and barracuda around.

Allen, Ty. and Laura were guests of Captain Dennis and the Florida Sportsman's "Fishing With Fighters" Program.

"Fishing with Fighters" is made possible through the efforts of Yamaha, and The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation.

-Rick Ryals

Successful Summer

August 2018

What a fantastic summer we've had with the "Fishing With Fighters" program by Florida Sportsman. We've fished with dozens of returning vets, and several patients of the UF Shands Pediatric Proton Center. I'm not sure whether the Captains or the guests have a better time, but I can tell you only the fish aren't happy, being part of the program.

Last weekend, Capts. Jeremy Thune, Eddie Smith, Marshall Strickland, Jesse Gregory, fished with veterans Sergio and Caleb Antonio, Fred Lacy with his Grandson Mario, Logan Betteridge, and Bill Wilderotter.

These trips are made possible through the efforts of Yamaha, and The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation.

-Rick Ryals

Reel Fighters

July 2018

When Captain Jeremy Thurne invited Billy Schofield, and his son aboard his boat "Reel Hazardous" he carried 26 years worth of gratitude from a grateful nation. That's how long Billy served in the US Navy. I'm not sure Billy ever enjoyed his 26 years at sea more than he did participating in Florida Sportsman's "Fishing with Fighters" program.

He, Jeremy and the crew pounded the kingfish. If our "Fishing with Fighters" Captains keep it up we may be able to cut defense spending with all the kingfish steaks our heroes are taking home.

Fishing with Fighters is made possible by Yamaha, and "The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation."

-Rick Ryals

Kings of Kingfish

July 2018

Tyler Stare and Levi Wilson served all of us for four years in the USAF, and Capt. Eddie Smith was more than happy to pass along all our thanks for their service.

Capt Eddie, hosted Levi and Tyler aboard "The Turtle" as part of Florida Sportsman's "Fishing with Fighters" program. They were obviously victorious in their battles with Kingfish and Bonita offshore Jacksonville.

Fishing with Fighters is made possible through the efforts of Yamaha, Costa, and The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation.

-Rick Ryals

Kingpin Fishing

July 2018

When Kenny Brown was injured as a soldier in Afghanistan, he had to wonder what life back home would be like. Enter Captain Matt Matheson of the “Kingpin”.

Because of the efforts of Matt, Kenny was able to do battle with plenty of kings and Bonita as part of Florida Sportsman's “Fishing with Fighters” program.

Fishing with Fighters is made possible through the efforts of Yamaha, Costa, and The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation.

-Rick Ryals

Peace of Mind

June 2018

    Dear Rick,
    I wanted to thank you again for organising a trip for Josh and I to go fishing with Captain Dennis, whose warmth and friendliness ensured we had an amazing time. Neither of us had been fishing before and had no idea how exhilarating it would be. It was a revelation to Josh and we both have a new appreciation of fishing as a sport that requires great skill and strength. It was wonderful to see my son really enjoying himself. It was the best thing we have done in Jacksonville so far.
    On the way back, Dennis stopped near a fishing trawler so that we could see a pod of dolphins leaping through the water at close range. This made an already fabulous trip, truly sublime. I think it was the first time in 6 months since Josh's diagnosis that I felt some peace of mind.
    Your generosity is very much appreciated. Please would you pass our sincere and fond thanks to Captain Dennis, who was so lovely to us and who is clearly a superb fisherman.
    With many, many thanks,

             -- Jeanne Neil

                    Mum to Joshua, 19, who is being treated for a clival chordoma.

Snappers to the Stage

May 2018

Imagine being 14 years old, and a rising athlete. One day the world is your oyster, and the next your facing Stage 4 Hodgkins Lymphona. That's the hand Logan Maciejewski and his beautiful family were dealt. They left their worlds behind to come to the UF Proton Center. Consider his buddy Jalen Rose. I think of all the ages I've been, maybe being 17 was the best. Jalen Rose is 17 and, unlike me, is an excellent athlete. One day his world was all about girls and athletics and cars, and NOT about Grey Zone Lymphoma. The two boys became fast friends at the UF Proton Center where they have managed to line up their daily appointments so they can put a serious stomping on Lymphoma together.

Thanks to Florida Sportsman's "Fishing with Fighters" program only the red snapper will be glad to see these to studs leave town. Captain Dennis Young hosted the boys aboard the "Sea Dancer" where they pulled on snapper till the snapper cried "UNCLE". Lymphoma will soon join the snapper among the vanquished foes of these two fighters.

"Fishing with Fighters" is only made possible through the efforts of Yamaha, Costa, and The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation.

-Rick Ryals

Not Today Cancer

March 2018

Imagine being across the ocean in a strange country fighting cancer by yourself. That's what Graeme Edwards has been dealing with here in Jacksonville. Imagine how great it was for his dad Chris to be able to join him, and the two of them being able to join Lonnie and I on “The Seven” yesterday. The catching was not great, according to mine and Lonnie's standards, but for a couple of great guys from England, catching red snapper after red snapper, took away all their nightmares for a few hours.

So thankful for Florida Sportsman's “Fishing with Fighters” program and Yamaha, Costa, and The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation for making these trips possible.

-Rick Ryals

Crushing Croakers

October 2017

Young 8 yr old Harry has celebrated “Ringing the Bell” at the Proton Center by crushing the big croakers in American waters. Someday British history books will write about his courage, and how badly he outfished his Dad!

Safe travels Nick, Rachel and Harry. Please come back and join us again aboard “ The Seven.”

-Rick Ryals

Kings with Capt. Roger

August 2017

A great day's fishing was long overdue for vets like Dennis Deveen. He served in Vietnam and came home when we as a people didn't understand quite what a debt we owed our heroes. He was joined by vets that have served in more recent conflicts, covering everywhere from the Med, to Afghanistan. Capt Roger Walker hosted the trip aboard his “Streaker.”

Florida Sportsman's “Fishing for Fighters" has proven to be a great resource for companies like Yamaha, Costa, Dandee Foods and the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation to thank the men and women that defend our way of life and give joy to people fighting harsh illnesses.

-Rick Ryals

Snapper with Strickland

August 2017

Billy Schofield served our country aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hancock. Incredibly Billy told us the flight deck was made of wood. That means our thanks for his service was long overdue.

Captain Mike Strickland and Capt. Eddie Smith thanked Billy the best way we know how. We may not be able to keep red snapper, but that doesn't mean that Billy and family couldn't have a ball catching them and letting them go.

Florida Sportsman's “Fishing For Fighters” enables companies like Yamaha, Costa, The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, and Dandee Foods a chance to tell our heroes THANKS!!

-Rick Ryals

Billfish for Biggs

August 2017

Getting the honor of taking Purple Heart Recipient Jordan Biggs out for his 3rd attempt to release a sailfish was a huge honor for me and my crew on “The Seven”.

Jordan has been very busy lining up new combat vets for our trips since he stepped on an IED in Afghanistan. Once he told me a sailfish was on his bucket list, it was game on!!

Congratulations Jordan. It was an honor to have you on “The Seven”

Jordan's trip was arranged by Florida Sportsman's “Fishing for Fighters” program sponsored by Yamaha, Costa Del Mar, The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, and Dandee Foods.

-Rick Ryals

Purple Heart Shark

July 2017

Purple Heart Recipient Jordan Biggs is not about to let stepping on an IED in Afghanistan slow him down.

Yesterday he went offshore with Capt Colin Cordell, slapped this fat shark in the face, took his lunch money, and made him go home and tell his Mama the US Army says hello.

Florida Sportsman loves celebrating our heroes with Yamaha's “Fishing for Fighters” program. The program is made possible through the help of Costa Del Mar, The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, and Dandee Foods.

We've got 4 more fighters heading out this Sunday.

-Rick Ryals

Attack on Kings

July 2017

Captains Mike Strickland and Al Torrans are the latest Captains that deserve our thanks for turning over their boats to help our warriors.

Great weather and even better fishing has made it possible for us to take more warriors fishing this year than ever before. We actually have warriors out this morning, and we've got reinforcements scheduled for Sunday to continue the attack on Northeast Florida's fish.

Florida Sportsman's “Fishing for Fighters” is made possible through the efforts of Yamaha, Costa, The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, and Dandee Foods. As long as our warriors continue to defend our freedoms, the great fishermen of Florida, will continue to try and thank them for all they've done.

-Rick Ryals

Kings and Cobes

July 2017

When the kingfish and cobia snuck into the “Southeast Hole” off Mayport Florida, Captains Roger Walker, Mike Strickland, Al Torrans, Clay Phillips, and Eddie Smith knew just what to do. Purple heart recipient Jordan Biggs was placed in charge of assembling a team of heroes involving Army, Navy, and Marines that are either active duty, or had served in our world's worst places to launch an attack on the unsuspecting invaders.

All told, 14 warriors battled over 50 kingfish with each warrior taking some home, and releasing plenty. Every Captain, along with myself is finding out just what a humbling experience it is to serve our nation's heroes.

We are currently in our fourth year of Florida Sportsman's “Fishing For Fighters” program. The program is exploding and so is the support for it. Yamaha, Costa, The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, and Dandee Foods all make these trips possible.

-Rick Ryals

The Real Heroes

July 2017

It's been a busy week so far for Florida Sportsman's “Fishing For Fighters”.

None of us know how to thank Army Sgt Frank Gayle for his 24 years of service including 2 tours in Iraq, or Sgt Adrian Varragan for his 16 years of service including 2 Iraqi tours. Corporal Kenny Brown was injured in a mortar attack in Aphganistan, while Corp Dan Hayes specialized in power line mechanics.

These men are true heroes, and Capts. Roger Walker and Eddie Smith were proud to host them on a day's offshore fishing to thank them for their service.

“Fishing for Fighters” is made possible through the efforts of Yamaha, Costa Del Mar, The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, and Dandee Foods.

-Rick Ryals

A Trip for Tyler

September 2016

When Army Landmine Specialist Tyler Hiltner stepped on an IED in Afghanistan he had no idea what the future would hold for him.

Mark Lacovara and I got to know Tyler, who lives in Jacksonville, back in May, when we took him fishing aboard Mark's fabulous 39 Sea Vee the Sweat Equity as part of Florida Sportsman's “Fishing for Fighters” program. We knew he had a good time. The tuna and mahi did their part. As I always do, I made sure Tyler had my number with specific instructions to call me if he ever needed anything.

It kind of made me nervous when Tyler and I reconnected today. He says he's doing well. His back is manageable, and he once again spoke of his incredible gratitude for his trip. He said it actually “scared the crap” out of him when he saw Mark's four Mercury 300's on the Sweat Equity transom. Keep in mind that he had never met any of us, and believe it or not he said he kept wondering what our agenda was. “For private citizens to make me feel like a king for a day, was indescribable. You guys took a day out of your lives and dedicated it, and all that money, to taking a guy like me on the trip of a lifetime. I'll never forget it. I'm afraid I've gotten hooked on something I may never get to do again."

Tyler's life has changed forever. He will spend the rest of it focusing on pain management from his injuries. It shook me up when he said "There is something I need to talk with you about, Capt. Rick. I do have a problem… I'm out of mahi!” I'll bet we can fix that!

-Rick Ryals

Kings on the Kingpin

August 2016

Mike with one of the kingfish he caught.

When Capt. Matt Matheson and I complained about the heat on the day Mike Blackney (USN) fished aboard Matt's boat “Kingpin” he could only laugh at us. He has spent 23 years in the Navy, and after doing multiple tours in both Afghanistan, and Iraq, trolling across a calm ocean sure felt good to him. Capt Matt was thrilled to host Mike as part of Florida Sportsman's “Fishing For Fighters.” Mike went home with three kingfish, and was already planning a neighborhood fish fry.

No we can't thank Mike enough for keeping us safe, but at least we can take him fishing.

Mike's trip was made possible through the efforts of Yamaha, Costa Del Mar, The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, The Duval family of Auto dealers, and Dandee Foods.

-Rick Ryals

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