This spring, two Chesapeake Bay organizations plan to take anglers in wheelchairs and/or those with disabilities and their families out on the water for accessible fishing excursions.

accessible fishing
CRAB's Gemini powercat has been outfitted for fishing in the 2024 season. Photo by Will Keyworth/ SpinSheet

Fish Redeemer has been taking wheelchair-bound anglers out fishing since 2021. 

“The genesis of Fish Redeemer is the personal realization of the hardship of those that are wheelchair bound and the sacrificial lives of the caregivers involved,” says Jo-Anne Kehmna, board member for the Maryland nonprofit. 

Starting in April, Redeemer, a Composite Yacht (CY) 46 classic Chesapeake Bay deadrise-style boat, will depart from St. Jerome’s Creek in Ridge, MD, providing the opportunity for a disabled person along with their family a day of fishing. The grounds and dock have been designed specifically for the needs and concerns of wheelchair-bound guests. Grades and paths are graded and maintained for easy mobility. There is a shaded arbor located at the edge of the parking lot to provide a reprieve from the sun.

accessible fishing
Photo courtesy of Fish Redeemer/Facebook

Trips cost $200 for the entire day for veterans; $350 for non-veterans. Kehmna says that sometimes people think that the opportunity “sounds too good to be true.” 

She says, “We are excited about providing hope and encouragement to our families and friends. It is always exciting.” 

Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating (CRAB) will offer its first fishing trips starting in June out of Annapolis. CRAB president Paul Bollinger admits that as a program providing the therapeutic benefits of sailing to people with disabilities, recovering warriors, and youth from underserved communities, he wasn’t so sure about fishing (and the fish smell). When a group came to CRAB’s Adaptive Boating Center from Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), they changed their minds. 
Bollinger says, “We took them down the docks. They saw our sailboats, saw our (40-foot) Gemini powercat, and said, ‘We want to go out on that and go fishing.’ We said, “Okay, we’ll do that.’” 

accessible fishing
A happy family aboard Redeemer for a day of fishing. Photo courtesy of Fish Redeemer

To outfit the powercat, the CRAB team has added rodholders and fishing gear to the boat. 

Bollinger says, “More importantly, we recruited a fishing guide, George Turner, an avid fisherman and oysterman, to lead the groups.” 

Starting in June, CRAB will take out groups of wheelchair-bound anglers and others with disabilities for bottom fishing (perch, spot, and croaker) in the shoals around Annapolis. To learn more, email Shannon Rohrer at [email protected]