When the opportunity arose, Mitch and Heather Bartunek decided to introduce their 2-year-old daughter, Tinley, to fishing.
And now, after winning the grand prize in the 2021 Take ’em Fishing program, they’re looking forward to enjoying future fishing trips with their growing family from a new Bass Tracker Classic XL fishing boat.
“This gives us new opportunities to spend time on the water as a family,” said Mitch, whose name was drawn out of nearly 2,500 entries in the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission challenge.
Take ’em Fishing encourages anglers to introduce, or re-introduce, someone to fishing, snap a photo and submit it online for the chance to win prizes. Those who do are helping fund conservation of the state’s aquatic resources for future generations to enjoy.
The Bartuneks, who live near Bruno, Nebraska, took their daughter fishing during a youth event at Fremont Lakes State Recreation Area, where she received her first fishing pole. Her excited parents took her fishing that day to try it out.
“We fished off the dock, and she was lucky enough to catch several fish,” Mitch said. “Her excitement really brought joy to our entire family.”
Mitch submitted a photo of their adventure to the challenge, and on Nov. 20, he and his family accepted the grand prize boat during a ceremony at Cabela’s in La Vista.
“We want our daughters to enjoy the outdoors as much as we do, and with this boat, we now can create new memories,” Mitch said.
Simply taking someone fishing for the first time can lead to a lifetime of outdoor enjoyment, said Tim McCoy, Nebraska Game and Parks director.
“Most of us learned to fish because someone asked us and took us fishing with them.” McCoy said. “By participating in Take ’em Fishing, people across Nebraska are sharing new fishing experiences with their friends and family. We thank our sponsors and those who participated, and we encourage everyone to invite someone new fishing and be rewarded by the excitement and joy of someone catching their first fish!”
Brian Caughron, group sales manager for the Cabela’s/Bass Pro Shops Boat Center at the La Vista store, said his team is proud to support the program and present the grand prize boat.
“Programs like Take ’em Fishing are making a real difference in the lives of Nebraskans across the state, and we are proud and honored to be part of that effort,” Caughron said. “Seeing the looks on families’ faces — and knowing they have a lifetime of outdoor memories ahead of them — is meaningful for everyone on our team.”
In addition to the boat, more prizes were donated by the Nebraska Game and Parks Foundation, Heartland DSC, Cabela’s/Bass Pro Shops, and others.
To see photos and stories from the program, visit OutdoorNebraska.org/Takeemfishing.