Ivan Nelson Veterans Fishing Classic


Ivan Would Have Been Pleased!

The Ivan Nelson Veterans Fishing Classic Was A Huge Success

As Carol Nelson, Ivan Nelson’s wife, presented the winning trophy, all in attendance celebrated with her the successful event that had paired pro-anglers and veterans in the August 25 fishing tournament at Bartlett Lake, Ariz. A community had truly come together to honor her late husband and to give veterans (many who had never fished before) a chance to enjoy this sport and to get out on the water with those who are experienced anglers.

This event would not have been possible without the valuable assistance and expertise of many individuals. At the risk of omitting someone, and I apologize in advance if I do, and give a sincere thank you (in alphabetical order) to the following people and businesses who were keys to the success of this event:


Anderson, Margie and John: These well-known outdoor enthusiasts and writers helped spread the word about the Classic, promoting it with their plethora of valuable contacts.

Arizona Boating & Watersports/Western Outdoor Times/Florida Boating & Watersports, Jim and Carol Allen: These publications have been covering the Classic in both its print and online versions.

Arizona Color: The banners hung around the event and the surrounding area were donated by Arizona Color. They were outstanding. Thank you to Samantha Marcantonio, Matt Nisbet, Adam Wheat, Tom G., Mike H.(“Stallone”), and Cory G.

Bartlett Lake Marina, Bryan and Eric Church and family: The Church family bent over backwards to welcome anglers, vets, and many others in attendance. In addition to many other offers of help, they provided food for the lunch following the fishing, kept their restaurant The Last Stop open past regular hours for the participants, and made the marina’s party boat available to those who wanted a tour around the lake before the awards ceremony.

B.A.S.S. Arizona High School Nation, Goodyear Bass Club Mike Hoffarth: Mike offered his invaluable knowledge and expertise in helping organize the tournament, assembling gift bags for the vets, supervising and cooking the after-fishing luncheon, and so much more.

Bass Junkyz, Tim Price: Without his knowledge and expertise, this event would not have happened. Tim’s input and hard work were critical to making this event a success. Bass Junkyz had all the equipment on site, including stage and audio equipment, all the weigh-in tools for safe, successful treatment of the fish. We also thank his staff, including his wife Claudine, Greg Krueger, Stephen Price, Brian Price, Don Ashford, Kirk McKinney, Mahone Maktima, and photographers Rick and Angie Barushok.

Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 10-11, June Esparza and other members of the flotilla were on the water, ensuring safety for all the participants. The flotilla’s valuable supporters included Commander P. Swietek, Vice Commander L. Lamb, and Capt. Dave Esparza. A special thank-you goes to Mark Becker who drove the party boat for some of the guests and participants.

Don McDowell Outdoors Host of the Don McDowell Outdoors radio show (formerly Shake, Rattle,& Troll): Don was the overall captain of the event, and its success would not have happened without his leadership. Don not only devoted his time in running all the planning meetings, but also was the catalyst for bringing together pro-anglers to participate in the tournament. His knowledge of all aspects of planning such a big event, including the legalities, was vital.

Frasher’s Smoke House and Mrs. Chicken, George Frasher: A week prior to the actual fishing tournament, George provided a meal for the Pairing Dinner (held for anglers and vets to meet one another) at VFW Post 3513. His donations of delicious pork and chicken were enjoyed by all.

Kokopelli Trailers, Uriah Owsley: Uriah was actually the first to suggest a tournament where he might give one of his custom-built bass-boat trailers as a prize. Fast forward to the Ivan Nelson Veterans Fishing Classic, and his original idea evolved into something even bigger.

Marc Townsend, owner of Custom Garage Floors and pro-angler: His expertise as a pro-angler has been invaluable to the planning and success of this tournament. He invested time and effort from the onset of the planning right through the awards ceremony which he co-emceed.

San Tan Valley Poston Butte High School AFJROTC cadets (AZ-20171), MSgt. Debbie Melton and Major John Napier: If you were at the event as the anglers and vets came in around 10 a.m. with their catches, you might have seen a group of fine young people (in orange tee-shirts) welcome them and saluting each veteran as he or she arrived at the ramp. These were the cadets from the AFJROTC unit at Poston Butte High School, San Tan Valley, Ariz. The unit is the adopted unit of VFW Post 3513 Auxiliary, which offers them support. The cadets are ready and willing to participate in future Post events.

VFW Post 3513 Auxiliary, Senior Vice President Jim and Carol Allen, and key supporters of the Post, Jeff and Mona AAmold, Carol Nelson: The originator of the idea of this tournament, Uriah Owsley, first approached Jim Allen of Arizona Boating & Watersports/Western Outdoor Times with his idea. The two conferred, enlisted others, and the rest is history. Jim and Carol have been instrumental in publicizing the tournament, and Jim especially has been a vital part of the organizing and implementing of the event. His contacts, including the pro-anglers and businesses, have been invaluable. Kudos also go to Jeff Aamold, whose help with the awards ceremony was much appreciated, and to his wife Mona who, along with Carol Nelson, served the food at the Pairing Dinner.

VFW Post 3513, Jeff Jones, Tom Kendra, and Tom Cole: Commander Jeff Jones and
Quartermaster Tom Kendra played important roles in this event — with publicity and their attendance at planning meetings. They made sure the Post was available for all the planning meetings and the Pairing Dinner. At the Pairing Dinner, Chaplain Tom Cole offered a prayer for the safety and success of all involved in the Classic.

VFW District: Joe Dora, who is District Commander and Commander of Post 720 offered valuable interest and support that reached beyond the local.
VFW State: Department Commander Tom Judd and Department Surgeon Mark Short gave their support for the Classic from its inception to its successful conclusion.

Other Valuable Partners

In one way or another, each of the following were significant partners in the success of the tournament:

ACE Hardware
Adventures idiaz
Airtime Cooling & Heating
Andrew Napoleon of A&M Graphics
Arizona Game & Fish Department
Arizona Department of Tourism
Bass Pro Shop
Broomstick Custom Baits
Casa Veterans Administration
Coca Cola
Daiichi Hooks
Desert Sportsmen
Eludesions Escape Rooms
Hale’s Marine Service
Ironwood Cancer Research Center
Malihini Sportfishing, San Diego
Maricopa County Sheriff Department
Rim Country Custom Rods
Spirit Electronics
Starfire Golf Club
Tonto National Forest
Vet Tix
Wide World of Maps

And, The Winners Were —

Congratulations! The three top teams who have won the San Diego Malihini sport-fishing trip this fall are the following:

#1: Boater Andrew Goettl and Veteran Mitch King with a total weigh-in of 8.64 pounds and a big fish of 2.45 pounds.

#2: Boater John Griffith and Veteran Robert Gofline with a total weigh-in of 6.78 pounds (They did not weigh a big fish.)

#3 Boater Corey Kramer and Veteran Jimmie Colman with a total weigh-in of 6.50 pounds and a big fish of 2.13 pounds.

Ivan Nelson Veterans Fishing Classic On The Water





























What’s Ahead?

Plans are already being made for the next Ivan Nelson Veterans Fishing Classic.


  1. Thank you, it was quite the “1st tournanent ever”experience for me. Appreciate all everyone did. Got the chance to thank everyone in person, including Carol,who was very brave and strong to do such an amazing Veterans event to honor her late husband and Veteran.


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