Scott County Christens Pontoon with Veterans Group

By Janice Bitters, Star Tribune, June 9, 2015, NEW PRAGUE –Summer is the season when Minnesotans pull out their boats and dust off their fishing rods in preparation for cabin weather. But for some — especially seniors and people with disabilities — getting outdoors can be a challenge.

That’s where Minnesota-based nonprofit Let’s Go Fishing (LGF) comes in.

The organization offers free fishing and pontoon boat outings to seniors, veterans and disabled adults throughout the summer. Scott County has a new chapter this year, which kicked off its season June 1 at Cedar Lake Farm Regional Park in New Prague.

“All of us know of individuals that cannot get out like they used to, and it’s hard to really realize [what that’s like] that without talking to somebody,” said Joe Holm, founder of Let’s Go Fishing. “It’s like taking something very precious from somebody that you had your whole life.”

New Prague resident Larry Smith attended the Scott County chapter’s maiden voyage June 1, which was specifically for military veterans.

“I don’t fish at all, hardly,” he said. “My wife fishes, she’s a fishing fanatic.”

Joe Vaughan, a retired New Prague fire chief and honor guard member, sat next to Smith, arms crossed, smiling out at the lake and chatting with the group.

“I caught all my fish last night at Cub,” he joked.

Vaughan said he isn’t much of a fisherman, but he plans to come back for another pontoon ride this summer.

And that’s just fine by the organizers of Let’s Go Fishing.

“It’s really about what being on the water does for a person mentally and physically,” Holm said.

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