Two worlds collide; Kentucky National Guardsman combines two favorite passions
By Capt. Andi Hahn, 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade Public Affairs Officer
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It may not be a Military Occupational Specialty, but for one Kentucky National Guardsman, bass fishing has turned in to an additional duty. And one that he doesn’t mind having.
It’s not every day you get to combine your two favorite passions in life – fishing and the Guard – but for Capt. Curtis M. Persinger, Commander of the 940th Military Police Co., 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, the two worlds have collided.
Persinger was one of the National Guardsmen awarded a position on the National Guard fishing team to compete nationally in the Forrest L. Wood Fishing Tour (FLW).
“I’m extremely excited and grateful for this opportunity,” said Persinger. “To fish on the boat with this caliber of professional anglers is surreal.”
The FLW Tour will travel to 11 locations during the next seven months and feature as many as 300 top bass anglers. The fishermen will cast their lines for top awards of up-to $125,000 cash in the Pro Division and up-to $25,000 cash in the Co-angler Division.
Persinger will be one of those co-angler competitors.
For Persinger, fishing has always been a huge part of his life. He caught his first big bass at age five.
“Every weekend my dad took me fishing,” he said. “He’d work five days out of town, when he returned I would have all the fishing tackle neatly in order ready to leave.”
Landing the unique opportunity to participate in this event started last year when Persinger traveled to Gunnersville, Ala., to do some casual fishing with Kentucky National Guardsmen Scott Carrier and research how to successfully run a large fishing tournament. Ironically, the 2010 FLW was there hosting a tournament. He linked up with the National Guard’s pro fishermen Michael Murphy. He used the opportunity to pick his brain on the tournament fishing at the pro level and how to get to the next step of competing.
He stayed in close contact with Murphy who eventually introduced him to the former president and CEO of the FLW Tour, Charlie Evans. Persinger persistently contacted Evans, pitching ideas of a Kentucky Army National Guard sponsored tournament on Kentucky Lake. During the summer months Persinger fished two tournaments on Kentucky Lake which happened to be miles from FLW Headquarters, placing sixth and second.
“I would definitely say these two tournaments were crucial and didn’t hurt my case to take it to the next level,” said Persinger. “It was the dog days of summer and we competed well against some strong competition.”
Persinger will participate in the first tournament of the season at Lake Okeechobee in Clewiston, Fla., Feb. 3-6. He will only take part in six of the 11 scheduled tournaments as his next big challenge kicks off in June – a third mobilization to Iraq.
“I just took command of my unit three months ago,” he said. “It’s going to be a huge challenge to command my Soldiers and fish as we near a deployment.”
Persinger will mobilize with the 149th MEB in support of Operation New Dawn. The Kentucky Guardsmen will conduct security force and base defense operations.
With the next few months a big challenge, Persinger continues to receive support from close friends and family. Most recently, he has received support from local businesses.
“As soon as an FLW representative called me asking me my shirt size, they asked ‘Do you have any additional sponsors?’ to which I said no,” he said. Since that phone call Persinger has added three local sponsors to his fishing resume: A2O Marine, Meineke, and Temple’s Barber and Style.
“My wife and Family are really supportive of the upcoming months,” he said. “We know that if we can get through these next six months and a deployment, we can get through anything.”