Posted by: Stephanie Vatalaro
August 23, 2010

Stephanie Vatalaro

Wheelchair Bound Outdoorsman Finds Joy in Fishing

The love of active sports and being in the great outdoors is bred in Tim Grave’s bones – even after those bones have let him down.  A paraplegic after a car accident caused a spinal injury six years ago, Graves, 27, nonetheless enjoys fishing and hunting from his wheelchair.

“I really got into fishing after the accident,” he recalls.  “There are a lot of hobbies I can’t do anymore.  This I can do. And I can do it by myself.”

Grave’s father, Brian Graves, took a snapshot of his son holding up a 46-inch, 18.5 pound native Muskie caught in Austin Lake in Portage, Michigan, and submitted it to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Inspection Services’ Focus On Fish Health photo contest.  The picture won in the Happiest Boater on the Lake category.  The fish was caught using a big 7 foot plastic lure.  “Tim was casting, then we heard a huge splash and he starting reeling this big guy in,” his dad said.

“Tim has made a remarkable adjustment since the accident,” notes the elder Graves.  “He owns a pontoon boat and a jet boat and goes fishing up and down the rivers near Portage whenever he gets a chance.”

The Graves’ were attracted to the website because they are avid supporters of preserving the environment, particularly the small lakes and waterways near where they live.  “We keep an eye out for invasive species like Asian carp and fish diseases like VHS,” the elder Graves says. “Cleaning my boat and equipment is a habit,” his son adds.

He points out that no special alterations for his wheelchair were needed on either of his boats.  “On my pontoon there’s an opening on the front, and I have a ramp that lets me get on the Bass Tracker boat from the dock.”

Many things attract him to fishing.  “It’s the thrill and fun of the catch.  It’s being out there in the midst of nature, and it’s a social thing — going out with my dad and brother and other friends.”

Graves says that he has always been competitive and fishing allows him to compete with his buddies.  “My friends like to keep me on my toes,” Graves says with a chuckle.  “OK, well, maybe not my toes…”

To participate in the photo contest, submit your photos by August 31 to Winning photos may be viewed on the site.

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Stephanie Vatalaro

— STEPHANIE VATALARO is director of communications for the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation and its Take Me Fishing and Vamos A Pescar campaigns where she works to recruit newcomers to recreational fishing and boating and increase awareness of aquatic conservation. She spends summers fishing and boating with her family on the Potomac River in the Northern Neck of Virginia.

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5 responses to “Wheelchair Bound Outdoorsman Finds Joy in Fishing”

  1. Corey Willey says:

    Great Muskie Tim. Hope that you had a mount made of that one. The fish of 10,000 casts maybe an understatement, especially at 46″.

  2. PowerTeam Lures says:

    Tim I really appreciate your mental strength and your will towards your job..Your blog will help to change many people’s outlook.

  3. habika smith says:

    I appreciate the concern which is been rose. The things need to be sorted out because it is about the individual but it can be with everyone. I like this particular article It gives me an additional input on the information around the world Thanks a lot and keep going with posting such information.
    fishing lures

  4. rpnc says:

    Tim, I too am disabled from a car accident. I fished before I got hurt, but there is nothing better than to be on the water reeling in the fish. I hope all who read your article and think life is over find the joy of fishing. Keep on reelin them.

  5. jko says:

    I laughed and appreciated your attitude? It made me think, “Hey would I hve as positive of an outlook?”. Some how I think not but you never know, Right! Thank you for having the ability to go forward not back. Not sure I could do the same. Bye the way I love to fish for the most part because it is relaxing much like gardening. Its like this; “Its all up to you and at the same time has absolutely nothing to do with you. Enjoy and take care.

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