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FWP celebrates 20 years of Fishing Without Barriers

By Rebecca Vogt, KCFW Reporter, rvogt@kcfw.com
Published On: Jun 13 2013 05:30:29 PM MDT
Updated On: Jun 13 2013 06:00:52 PM MDT
WOODS BAY, Mont. -

Fish, Wildlife, and Parks' John Fraley and Jerry Howard started Fishing Without Barriers 20 years ago. The yearly event is dedicated to getting kids and adults with disabilities out fishing on Flathead Lake.

Landn Benner is an old pro when it comes to catching fish on Flathead Lake. The 28-year-old has been a part of Fishing Without Barriers for four years. He's recuperating from a gunshot wound that left him with a traumatic brain injury 10 years ago, but that didn't stop him from casting out his reel with Captain Tim during Thursday's event.

"He knows where the fish are, that's for sure," exclaimed Benner.

"He showed us how everything worked, showed us how the fish finder worked," said his mother, Sue Benner.

Captain Tim and other charter boats donate their time and expertise to the event in Woods Bay, which encourages folks to look past their handicaps and become fishermen for the day.

"This gives an opportunity to a lot of folks who don't normally get out fishing," said FWP fisheries expert Jim Vashro. "A lot tell us this is the highlight of the year for them."

Daryle Handy, a volunteer who is disabled himself, says Fishing Without Barriers shows how invested folks are in assisting the disabled community.

"Handicapped people can teach you a big lesson if you pay attention," said Handy.

Benner tells NBC Montana the experience means "the world" to him. It's words like these that reinforce why Captain Time has volunteered at Fishing Without Barriers for the better part of a decade.

"It mean so much to me that I can make this day just for these guys," said Capt. Tim Shattuck of Flathead Lake Monster Charters. "They don't get this privilege very often. If they catch fish, fine! If not they're just happy to go out on the water."