Donated boat will benefit Colorado's young anglers

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Photo courtesy of Blake Muhlenbruck
Blake Muhlenbruck, left, donated this Promoting Youth Fishing rig to Frank Villa, Colorado B.A.S.S. Nation youth director.

Inspired by Frank Villa’s dedication to Colorado’s young anglers, his longtime friend and fellow Colorado B.A.S.S. Nation member Blake Muhlenbruck gave him a special gift.

Muhlenbruck presented Villa with Muhlenbruck's own Nitro/Mercury rig, so Villa can use it to take more children fishing.

Villa and his sponsors updated and wrapped the gifted boat. The words on the wrap denote its purpose: “Promoting Youth Fishing.”

“It seemed like we were always a boat or two short,” said Villa, the father of four who founded the Centennial Bass Club’s junior counterpart, the Fighting Fish Sticks. “Now I have my boat and this boat for the kids to use. And they get really excited when they get to sit in a wrapped boat.”

Muhlenbruck had always wanted to use the boat to take more kids fishing himself, but a debilitating work-related accident several years ago made that impossible.

“There is always a need for an extra boat,” said Muhlenbruck in the surprise presentation, “whether it is for the high school program you brought to life at Windsor High School, the junior youth club you started so many years ago or for your commitment to getting special needs children out on the water.

“I know that, by giving you this boat, my dreams will continue and others will begin. … As you know, there is a strange magic when you’re on the water. Catching fish is just the bonus.”

Villa said he feels inspired when he sees former junior members now fishing adult tournaments and on college fishing teams. And almost certainly more are on the way, now that the Fighting Fish Sticks has grown its membership from the single digits to 25 or 30 kids.

With just two years to retirement when he “can really concentrate on kids’ fishing,” Villa added that he hopes to use the boat in a high school tournament trail he wants to start in Colorado. He’ll also use it in local parades, hoping kids who see the boat will want to get “out of their living rooms and onto the lakes, where we can teach them about fishing and conservation and educate them about the outdoors.”

Several generous sponsors helped with the updating, wrapping and equipping of the boat, said Villa. They include ISB Research and Development, Cabela’s, Island Lake Marine, IZM Creative Design, Topo Graphics, Eagle Claw, Trokar, Berkley, Tackle Warehouse, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Skirmish Baits and FrankVilla.com.

Anyone who wishes to support Colorado’s “Promoting Youth Fishing” boat should contact Villa at [email protected].