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Soldier reels in 47-inch muskie during muskie challenge in Brasher

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BRASHER - A Fort Drum wounded warrior reeled in a 47-inch muskie as the top catch of the day during Saturday’s annual muskie challenge in Brasher.

Spc. Mark Miranda caught the muskie with his guide, Mike Small, who broke the muskie record for fly fishing - 50 inches - during last year’s inaugural event on the St. Regis and Deer rivers.

American Legion Post 514, Winthrop, worked with FISHCAP to arrange having Fort Drum soldiers come in Friday night and then head to the river for a day of fishing on Saturday.

FISHCAP is an initiative that promotes the St. Lawrence River Valley as a premier fishing destination.

Fourteen soldiers, including seven wounded warriors, visited Brasher for the challenge.

“There were some that were prior military members. We had 14 boats with a soldier and guide,” Post 514 Commander Jim Stickney said. “Things went excellent. The day went very well.”

The soldiers arrived Friday night and stayed at Jellybean Riverside Campgrounds.

“At the campground, on top of the free site they offered, they had a band afterwards. I can’t say enough about Jellybean Riverside Campground,” Mr. Stickney said.

They were treated to a 6 a.m. breakfast at the American Legion and then, with a bag lunch in hand, hit the river with their volunteer guide for a day of fishing.

The soldiers and guides return to the American Legion for a free dinner, followed by a closing ceremony at 6 p.m.

“They got off the river about 3 o’clock. It was a very nice day. It was an active day for the muskie. Three were caught. Everybody was very pleased - the guides, fishermen and the townspeople were very receptive,” Mr. Stickney said.

“Everybody really enjoyed themselves. It was very relaxing. The soldiers really appreciated it. Most of them had been in the field a couple of weeks,” he said.

Mr. Stickney said they’ll be offering the event once again next year for soldiers, and they want to make it a bigger event, something they weren’t able to do this year because of the focus on the recent BASS tournament in Waddington.

In 2012, the first-time event for the Brasher area brought 32 soldiers from Fort Drum and 32 guides from around the area to Brasher to fish in the St. Regis and Deer rivers.

It also gave youngsters an opportunity to play flag football with NFL standouts who visited for the first-ever event.

A Punt, Pass and Kick contest was held at the Tri-Town Arena for kids 14 and under. The top five winners in each of four divisions - 8 years old and younger, ages 9 and 10, ages 11 and 12, and ages 13 and 14 - received NFL jerseys and moved on to participate in a flag football game with former Oakland Raider Eddie Kidd, San Francisco 49’er Sam Kennedy, and Tampa Bay Buccaneer Monte Spencer.

The day also featured face painting, horse-drawn rides and a bouncy house and slide for family members of the soldiers and community residents.

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