Hooked on Vets: Fishing Experiences for Veterans and their Families

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Hooked on Vets founder, Clayton Henderson with 1st Place Tournament winners Sammi Sons and John Neill.

Hooked on Vets tournament results

Forty-two Veterans and supporters participated in the Hooked on Vets (HOV) Trout Fishing Tournament on April 22, 2023. HOV held the tournament at Trout Hollow Lodge on a beautiful, windy day with low generation. John Neill and Samie Sons won first place. Hansel and McClanahan came in second, and Doty and Doty third. All fish had to be alive to be for the tournament weigh-in.

There was a tie for big fish. John Neill caught a 5.13-pound Rainbow and his partner, Sami Sons, a 5.13-pound Brown. By acclamation, the crown awarded the Big Fish prize to Sami Sons.

All about giving the Vet a great experience

Mario Lozina, the owner of LOZ Lures and a Hooked on Vets director, said that, like all HOV activities, it’s all about giving the Veteran a great experience. From complimentary breakfast, lunch, and dinner to the donation of all the tournament prizes and the camaraderie and fellowship, it was that and more. Lozina appreciated all who made contributions and helped. He had special thanks for the generous donations and contributions of Wes and Pati Pfeifer, owners of Trout Hollow Lodge.

In August 2022, Clayton Henderson established Hooked on Vets. It’s a non-profit organization whose mission is to positively affect the quality of life of veterans and their families. It allows veterans and their families to enjoy great outdoor fishing experiences. A veteran himself, Clayton understands the value of providing support and camaraderie to those who have served our country.

Hooked on Vets primary purpose

The idea for Hooked on Vets originated when Clayton enlisted the help of his friend, Mario Lozina, to set up the organization. As someone who served in psychological operations in the Army, Clayton wanted to create a space where veterans could come together and bond over their shared experiences. With the primary purpose of providing outdoor fishing experiences, Hooked on Vets aims to give veterans a chance to connect with nature and enjoy the benefits of fishing and being outdoors.

To join, just join “show Up,” there are no fees or dues

Henderson says that to become a member of Hooked on Vets, all veterans must do is “Show up.” There is no fee to join or dues to pay. You “Show up” when you join the Facebook Group “Hooked on Vets.” Any Veteran can join, it’s very informal, and they can get as involved as they want to. Hooked on Vets now has over 800 members in its Facebook Group.

Participation in Hooked on Vets Events

We select members at random for participation in individual events. The organization typically lists 20 slots on Facebook for an event. Participants can put their names down for a chance to be selected. The organization uses a “spinning wheel” to choose the participants for each event.

One of Hooked on Vets’ upcoming events is “Cinco de Trouto,” which takes place on the weekend of May 5. The event is a collaboration with Darrell Cureton, the host of “Missouri On The Fly Podcast. They will take two Marine veterans fishing on the Current River. Montauk Pines Cabins and Lodging have generously donated a cabin and an RV site for the event. Besides four or five individual veteran-guided trips like this, the organization hosts two Veteran Free Trout Fishing Weekends at two of the State of Missouri’s Trout Parks and does two tournaments on Lake Taneycomo.

The events and frequency depend on the funds the organization has to use and the availability of host guides. HOV is a Sub-Chapter C Corporation and donations are tax deductible. With the money raised by participating in Hooked on Vets events and becoming a member of the organization, veterans can feel a sense of belonging and community that is often difficult to find after leaving the military.

Hooked on Vets by Vets for Vets and their families

Hooked on Vets is an incredible organization that makes a tangible impact on the lives of veterans and their families. By providing opportunities for outdoor fishing experiences, the organization creates a space where veterans can come together, relax, and form bonds that will last a lifetime.

The organization’s informal approach and open membership policy make it accessible to any Veteran wanting to join. If you’re a veteran looking for a way to enjoy the great outdoors and connect with others, HOV might be the organization you’ve been looking for.