Boredom in "the sandbox" leads a National Guardsman to Florida to fish with Bobby and Arnie Lane.
Sergeant E5 Jason Dillon of Hattiesburg, Miss., was killing time during one of his tours in Iraq watching YouTube videos on fishing. After burning out on YouTube, he headed over to Bassmaster.com where a "Salute the Troops" video caught his eye.
The video was of Bobby Lane propped up on the deck of his boat at 2008's Oneida Lake Elite Series event thanking our service men and women for their time. Lane said something to the effect of, "If there's anything I can do for any one of you, get in contact with BASS, and we can arrange something." For Dillon, "something" meant a fishing trip.
After BASS contacted Lane, the two got to talking and settled on a date to go fish, July 31. Dillon and his fiancé Lisa Maginity left Hattiesburg at 8 p.m. CT and drove through the night to Kissimmee, Fla., to meet Lane at Lake Toho. Lane was waiting in his Skeeter to take the pair out for a day on one of Florida's big bass factories.
"I have a big one (bass) on the wall at home, but it needs to be replaced," Dillon said of his fish-themed interior decorating. "I heard there are some monsters down here."
Dillon and Maginity had planned to sample Florida bass as table fare as well.
"I've got the oil, fryer, breading and a brand new filet knife in the truck," he said. "We could do this in the parking lot afterward if needed."
That wouldn't be necessary, as Lane offered a cabin to the couple for two nights.
"This is such a great opportunity to give back to the people who are getting the job done over there keeping us safe so we can get our jobs done here. For me, that's fishing," Lane said. "I'm honored to get the chance to give back to the people who give so much to our country."
Dillon takes the praise in stride saying it's all in a day's work.
"You know, a lot of people ask me why I do what I do, and I'll tell you it isn't for the money, that's for sure. It isn't for the glory, and I don't want to be a hero. I just love doing it," he said. "It's my job and it's what I do."
What isn't everyday work is coming to Florida and fishing with an Elite Series pro.
"This was more than I expected, it really could not have been any better," he said. "After I saw that video, I had been dreaming about fishing with him ever since. Now, it's a dream come true."
Dillon and Maginity fished with Bobby on Friday, then Bobby's older brother Arnie took the couple out on Saturday. It was on Sunday with Bobby again that Dillon got his biggest fish, a 6-pounder. Now he wants to fish with Chris, the youngest of the Lane brothers.
"I know Chris moved to Guntersville, Ala., so I want to fish with him sometime. That way I can say I've fished with all the Lanes," he said.
While Dillon didn't get his double-digit bass, he did get a few meals out of the deal.
"We fried up seven or eight fish, and man, was it good. What a trip," he said. "When Lisa and I set a date to tie the knot, he's got an invite in the mail."