Angler Duo Win Tournament, Support Military Heroes and Youth Fishing

Two Texas anglers, Scott Burns and Richard Dragulski, recently paired up for the win at the 2013 Patriot's Challenge Open Championship, but they both agree that the "reel" winners from the tournament are the active and veteran military personnel, who have fought for our country, as well as the youth participants--our country's future. Burns and Dragulski pulled in a winning overall top five weight of 17.58 pounds, but to them, that number means nothing compared to the honor and purpose that they have helped to bring to the shores of Lake Rayburn. They represent a growing level of support for veteran and youth events and clubs that have been erupting all over East Texas, just this year alone, and Lake Rayburn seems to be the central hub for all of the activity. Dragulski, of Dallas, has participated in other tournaments benefitting veterans and is active in the high school fishing scene with his son and sometimes fishing partner, Kyle. He said, "I do this for my son and the young men and women who are interested in the sport of fishing. Keeping kids focused and interested in something they can do for a lifetime is why I fish, and occasionally pairing up with someone like Scott Burns at these charitable events--honoring those that have served our country--are always rewarding to me win or lose." Terry Sympson, the Patriot's Challenge event founder and director, said nearly half of the participants in the tournament were active duty military or veterans, but the number of youth anglers was also significant. Bradley Rathburn and his grandpa, Benny Aylor, were the winners of the Youth Division, weighing in their top five bass at 16.23. His prize--a Lews Speed Stick Rod with a matching Lews Speed Spool Reel, but what was priceless was the look on his face when he found out he won, according to Sympson and other bystanders. And that is what it is all about. Burns, a Lufkin resident, who grew up on the banks of Lake Rayburn, said, "I believe our youth is the future of this industry and feel it is important to teach them conservation and the respect of competitive angling." And just as youth and military focused events have grown, so has the angling career for Burns, who says 2013 has been and "epic" year for him. He has qualified for three major championships and received the Angler of the Year title. However, his crowning moment for this season is his new affiliation with Bass Pro Shops and his acceptance to the Tracker Nitro Pro Team and Mercury Marine Pro Team. He is also involved with the TBF High School Division and FLW College Division. Burns and Dragulski both plan to stay affiliated with and support military and youth events and said they were honored to be a part of the Patriot's Challenge tournament. For more information about becoming involved in military or youth fishing events, continue checking this website for upcoming stories highlighting these events and clubs.

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Fishing Report from TPWD (Jan. 19)

GOOD. Water stained; 55-58 degrees; 3.33 feet low. Fishing remains the same as we head into another cold front. Bass are good on Carolina rigs and crankbaits in the points, ditches and drains. Crappie are good on live minnows, then jigs after the live bite subsides. You will find them in creeks and river channels. Catfish are good in shallow to 15 feet of water, moving towards the creeks. Report by Lynn Atkinson, Reel Um N Guide Service.

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