By Army Master Sgt. Thomas Kielbasa
Florida National Guard
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla., Feb. 24, 2015 – A National Guard soldier will be featured tomorrow and Thursday on a nationally televised sport-fishing show, during which he’ll be seen reeling in bass, sailfish and even an alligator.
Maj. Peter Jennison of the Florida Army National Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion, along with his son, Morgan, will appear on a taped episode of NBC Sports’ show “Bass 2 Billfish with Peter Miller.”
The fishing show hosted by professional angler Peter Miller is filmed in locations across Florida. Jennison’s two-day episode was shot in late January, and it included salt-water fishing for sailfish off of the coast of Miami Beach and freshwater bass fishing in the Everglades.
“It was surreal to be surrounded by such skilled fishermen,” Jennison, a 20-year-veteran of the Florida National Guard, said. “Peter Miller and his entire crew were incredible professionals. They treated us like absolute royalty every step of the way. Not only did we learn some highly technical fishing skills, we [also] had a ton of fun doing it.”
Jennison said he and his son caught seven sailfish during the saltwater portion of the episode -- which broke the show’s previous one-day record of five sailfish caught -- and they also reeled in two sharks. The crew released the sailfish and the sharks, but kept three mahi fish for dinner that night.
On the second day, he said, they caught more than 50 fish in the expansive Everglades, including bass, brim, oscar, mudfish, crappie and gar.
“We even caught one alligator that ate some of the bass we were reeling in,” Jennison said. “But the alligator wasn’t harmed.”
A Mutual Honor
Miller explained that the excursion with Jennison and his son was the first time in the show’s six seasons that the guests and crew have “hooked and caught a triple header” of sailfish. He also said that fishing with the soldier was an honor.
“Watching (Jennison) and his son smiling from ear to ear while battling 8-foot-long sailfish all day –- the fastest fish in the ocean, clocked at 72 miles per hour -– was amazing,” Miller said. “They both share the same passion for the outdoors, and this trip gave them the perfect platform to further strengthen their father-son bond.
“As I watched them laughing and taking some ‘selfies,’ I couldn’t help but think of how fortunate we are, to be afforded our freedoms because of the selfless acts of our Army National Guardsmen,” he continued. “Taking them fishing was my little way of saying ‘thank you’ and I look forward to doing it again soon.”
To Jennison, the honor was mutual.
“After over 20 years of service in the Florida Army National Guard, and nearly three years deployed, it was an extreme honor and privilege for me to spend those few days fishing with my son Morgan,” Jennison explained. “But the opportunity to share with the world a little about the incredible career I’ve had in the National Guard was equally rewarding. It’s my hope that somebody will watch ‘Bass 2 Billfish’ and be inspired to join the Florida National Guard like I did.”