The Gary Lindsey Firecracker Fishing Tournament has been held annually for the past six years. Coming up on its seventh event, organizers are excited for what is in store.
Proceeds from the event will be split between the Smoky Mountain Service Dogs group, which helps disabled American veterans, and the Blount Special Operations Response Team. It does rescue dives to recover important items lost underwater, as well as ground search missions.
Ed Lindsey, a volunteer with the response team and father of Gary, helps organize the tournament with his wife, Janet, and Heartland Anglers, a group that sets up amateur fishing tournaments around the United States.
“We used a service dog in the search and rescue for our son,” said Ed. “We do this in memory of him, it keeps his memory alive, and we help out the kinds of organizations that were there for him.”
Volunteering with the BSORT is part of that effort to give back, and Ed actively takes part. He meets up with response team members for training on the second Saturday of every month and helps them in missions that get called in. Just recently, he aided a search to find a dog’s tracking collar lost in a lake and another to survey for a missing person around Norris Lake.
“If someone calls us, we go off and do search and rescues,” Ed said. “Whether it’s water dives, on the ground or search and rescues, call the BSORT team and we will respond.”
As part of his volunteer work, Ed helps divers by giving them instructions, like telling them to turn, stay down or come to the surface. He also helps with ground-based search and rescue missions and plans to begin diving himself one day.
If they’re not diving, Ed says the response team will typically deploy sonar to get an idea of what’s below. But, of course, the technology doesn’t provide an exact image. For that, he says a FishSens SondeCAM the team just got will let them know precisely what’s there.
“We’re real excited about this camera to help in future missions,” he said. “We’ll be able to spot something on sonar, anchor with the dive boat and then be able to find anything without having to send a diver down.”
The SondeCAM will be presented to the BSORT team on July 3, the tournament’s opening day. Ed is also in talks with Lowrance Electronics to source an HDS-12 Gen3 Touchscreen Fishfinder to use with it.
With around 650 people expected to make it to the 2015 tournament, the hope is that the proceeds will be enough to secure two $8,000 checks for Smoky Mountain Service Dogs and the BSORT team.
The money will help the response team to refurbish parts of its boat, as well as get new wetsuits, Ed says. In addition, it will help fund gifts and prizes for those fishing in the tournament.
About 180 boats are in the tournament each year, and it has raised nearly $60,000 for service dogs and search and rescue efforts since it first began.