HARKER HEIGHTS — Second Lt. James Washburn worked hard to help stage the fifth annual Brig. Gen. Charles B. Allen Memorial Bass Tournament on Saturday at Stillhouse Hollow Lake.
Then, much to his surprise, Washburn’s team took second place in the six-hour event.
“I wasn’t going on the water to compete,” he said. “I was just going out there to have fun. I’m not an expert on fishing here in Texas, being from Ohio.”
Washburn was teamed with Chris Miller, an avid fisherman from Kempner.
“I think the key to our finishing in second place was we did a lot of casting,” Miller said. “We grinded it out. We covered a lot of water. But, most important, we did have a good time. We both caught fish.”
This was the first year Miller participated in this event, which pays tribute to Brig. Gen. Charles B. Allen, who died at age 49 in a 2004 Texas helicopter crash with six other military personnel.
“I’m a member of the Cen-Tex Basshunters Club and the president asked me if I’d like to take a soldier out fishing,” Miller said. “It’s nice to be able to give something back to our soldiers.”
A lot of the fishermen return every year, Washburn said. “They enjoy fishing with the soldiers and they’re very aware of why we put this on and what we’re trying to achieve. The fishermen come with a great attitude and they’re here to honor the memory of Gen. Allen.”
Spc. Michael Johnson took third place with teammate Bernard Klimaszewski.
“Our approach wasn’t anything special at all,” Johnson said. “Once we found our location, we caught a few small fish. Instead of moving, we decided to stay until the bigger ones showed up — and they did show up. Honestly, we found one decent little spot and stood there the entire day.”
Johnson said he was honored to participate.
“This was my first year in this tournament,” he said. “I wanted to try something new, fishing. But it’s also important that we honor Gen. Allen’s memory. ... From what I hear around our unit and from people who knew him, he was very into fishing and was a great man.
Johnson, like others, will likely be back to cast more lines in 2015. “It was a lot of fun. I’m definitely hoping to participate again next year.”