Barber is Top Angler
Jack Barber nabbed PVA's 2015 Angler of the Year honor.
Fishing sports enable an equal playing field for both able-bodied and anglers with disabilities
Fishing sports enable an equal playing field for both able-bodied and anglers with disabilities. And for Jack Barber — a walking Army veteran with service-connected spinal stenosis — it was natural talent that helped him grab the 2015 Angler of the Year title on the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) Bass Tour.
“This was my first time winning Angler of the Year in my six years fishing on the trail,” says Barber, a 22-year Army veteran who served in Vietnam and Korea and has been a PVA member for more than 20 years. “I knew that I was doing well throughout the season, but the expectation that I might win was never there — until I learned I was leading going into the final tournament.”
Barber accumulated 455 points during the 2015 season, defeating Jason Swanson (Plano, Texas) by just two points and Arthur Hunt (Harrisburg, Ill.) by five. But his title came down to the final tournament at PVA’s Capital Clash tournament, held June 5–7, on the Potomac River in Waldorf, Md.
His win comes just two years after he faced some devastating challenges in his hometown of West, Texas. In April 2013, Barber’s home was leveled in the fertilizer plant blast that killed 15 people and wounded another 226. Barber — who was not home at the time of the explosion — lived just 800 feet from the plant.
“My boat was not damaged; it was still in the backyard,” Barber says. “Thank God I didn’t lose that.”
In addition to winning a shopping spree at Bass Pro Shops, Barber also qualified to compete in the Old Milwaukee BASS Nation Championship, taking place Nov. 5–7 on the Ouachita River in Monroe, La.
The championship will draw able-bodied and anglers with disabilities from all over the world to compete for a spot in the 2016 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro on the Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees March 4–6, 2016.
Barber’s win will also cover his entry fees for all seven stops on the 2016 PVA Bass Tour season, which kicked off in September with the Okie Open, hosted by the Mid-America PVA Chapter at Lake Eufala, in Eufala, Okla.
“Fishing is very much therapy for me,” Barber says. “It’s a pleasure fishing with Paralyzed Veterans of America, and the camaraderie is next to none. There’s really nothing like it.”
Gary Holland (Oklahoma City) finished as the bank competition’s overall champion with 468 points. He edged out Donna Hendrickson (Garland, Texas) by five points.
The annual PVA fishing tour is a BASS-sanctioned event. The tour now has seven two-day tournaments across the country, where anglers with disabilities can showcase their skills. Each tournament has boat and bank competitions.
Barber is Top Angler
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