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Brasher holding muskie challenge for soldiers on Saturday

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BRASHER FALLS — Fort Drum soldiers will have another opportunity to fish on the St. Regis and Deer rivers Saturday as part of the annual muskie challenge.

American Legion Post 514, Winthrop, has been working with FISHCAP to arrange for Fort Drum soldiers to 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.

Post 514 Commander James Stickney said they were looking for a good turnout.

“We’ve got hopefully 30 to 40 soldiers coming in Friday night,” he said.

They’ll camp for free Friday night and then the American Legion will open its doors for breakfast before the soldiers head out to the water.

“We’ll meet at the Legion for breakfast at 6 o’clock Saturday morning. The soldiers and fishermen will get a bag lunch and head to the river,” Mr. Stickney said.

Following a day of fishing, the soldiers and volunteer guides will return to the American Legion for a free dinner, and a closing ceremony is slated for 6 p.m.

“We’ve had over 30 men anxious and eager to take a soldier out on the river,” the Legion commander said. “The campsite is also going to provide activities for wives and children.”

The 2012 Hometown Heroes Muskie Challenge, the first 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 provided 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 children 14 and under. The top five winners in each of four divisions — 8 and younger, ages 9 and 10, ages 11 and 12, and ages 13 and 14 — received NFL jerseys and then were invited to participate in a flag football game with former Oakland Raider Eddie Kidd, San Francisco 49er Sam Kennedy and Tampa Bay Buccaneer Monte Spencer.

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

A record muskie was caught during last year’s muskie challenge.

“Everybody had a great time last year. All the fishermen had a great time,” Mr. Stickney said.

The town of Brasher already has allocated funding for this year’s event, which is a scaled down version of the 2012 muskie challenge. But it almost didn’t happen, according to Mr. Stickney.

“They were going to drop it this year because of the BASS tournament (in Waddington). I stepped up and said, ‘Hey, we can bring in 20 to 30 guys. It’s not a big deal,’” he said.

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