Project Healing Waters 2011
I could feel the veteran's enthusiasm before we got to the creek. Some had fly fished before as others hadn't. A couple of Vets wore their Project Healing Waters patches already on their attire.
I could see his determination as he drifted the nymph we selected for him. He had no argument as I would later change flies to hopefully get a steelhead to take one. Explaining to him how to hold the rod level with the water and following the drifting nymph down stream, he had no complaints and followed my suggestions. I felt the disappointment he had with each break off or missed opportunity. He neither wanted to give up or felt he couldn't land one.
The hook set and the good battle the steelhead gave him was joyous to watch. I felt the excitement he was feeling as I netted his fish and the accomplishment he must have felt when he held his first steelhead. I recognized his concern for wanting to get the fish safely back into the water after waiting for the many pictures that were taken of him and his fish. The fish swam forcefully away when I finally released it from my grip. I felt the pride in his soul when I returned and shook his hand with this accomplishment. Though he landed no other fish I knew he took away this learning experience us guides instilled in him.
We were all happy for all their success.
I know there were many FishErie members who helped make this happen behind the scenes but being there and experiencing the ones in the forefront was amazing.
When we met the Vets for the first time on Friday, at Uncle Johns Campground, a couple of them had no sleeping bags or pillows. John and Hans provided these for their cabin accommodations. Hans and I went to the nearest store and bought food and drink while they awaited Saturday's adventure.
At Crowley's each Vet was presented with a custom fly rod, made by board members with Batson Enterprises blanks and hardware, in cases from FishUSA. New reels from Angler's Roost, and fly line provided by Dan from Cortland. Fly boxes loaded with flies were given to them from Defrank's Flies and the leaders were donated by Brian, a FishUSA Rep. It looked like it was going to be a fun event for them at the time, and it was as we found out later on.
Even though there were only 5 Vets, instead of eight, the other guides came along to scout or assist us guides who were one-on-one with the Vets.
When the fishing was over we headed back to the picnic and event area. On the drive over to Folley's End Campground, Dave and I had good conversation in my van. The one thing I know I'll never forget was this brief comment exchange;
Doubletaper: "I'm glad you had confidence in me when I was suggesting fishing techniques to you as you fished."
Dave: "Thank you for having patience with me!"
Dave, the Vet i guided, in action
Another Vet catches a brown
Releasing the memorable catch
Guides & Vets
It was a rewarding weekend! A cigar was in order for the ride home.