I always look forward to our One Fly Tournament. The last few years it has been held at Lake Of The Forest in Bonner Springs, KS. This is a very old residential lake surrounded by homes and is full of fat, sassy bass and bluegill.
This year we were joined by some veterans from Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing.
A light rain fell all morning with temperature hovering in the low seventies: a fisherman’s dream. As usual those who arrived early and fished from kick boats or float tubes were the most successful.
The idea is to use one fly all morning. Theoretically if you lose your fly you’re done for the day. Small prizes are awarded for the biggest fish and the most fish and it’s all done on the honor system. Yes, some fishermen are actually honorable. This year the biggest fish award went to a guy who caught a 21” bass (that turned out to be “only” 19” when measured). The award for the most fish went to someone who landed an astounding 63 bass and bluegill. All fish were released.
The morning was capped off with a delicious picnic lunch, lots of bragging and probably some lying. But I didn’t hear ANY bitching.
Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing began in 2005 serving wounded military personnel at Walter Reed Army Medical Center who were returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since then it has expanded nationwide, establishing its highly successful program in Dept. of Defense hospitals, Warrior Transition Units, and Veterans Affairs Medical Centers and clinics across the country.
The PHWFF program provides basic fly fishing, casting, fly tying and rod building classes to participants ranging from beginners to those with prior fly fishing and tying experience who are adapting their skills to their new abilities.
Where do I fit in to all this? I teach fly tying to -and am sometimes taught by – a small group of vets on Monday nights.
Last Monday we had requests for tying instructions on a traditional trout fly, the gold ribbed hare’s ear nymph. I chose a relatively large hook (#12 3X long) because a big hook is easier for beginners to learn on– and because I could see it better.
This fly can be tied weighted or unweighted, in many colors, with or without a bead. It looks exactly like nothing but suggests everything from a mayfly nymph to a scud or sow bug. It gets its name from the original body material: the short fur on the ears of rabbits. They still sell real rabbit ears in fly shops for the purists but I prefer packaged dubbing material.
Award winning fly tyer and Air Force veteran Mike George of Olathe, KS demonstrated his unique technique for working with deer hair for a small gathering of veterans at a Project Healing Waters FlyFishing meeting Monday night.
Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military personnel and veterans through fly fishing and associated activities. For more information see www.projecthealingwaters.org .
Representing the Heart Of America Fly Fishers, Mark Borserine and I sat in with a couple of other fly tiers at the Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing meeting Tuesday night. PHWFF is an organization that helps wounded service men and women get into all aspects of fly fishing from rod building and fly tying to developing fly casting proficiency.
You can become involved in this worthwhile project by contacting Bob Barnett at (816) 309-7071 or firstname.lastname@example.org
A catchphrase making the rounds nowadays is “I want to do something to make a difference”. What makes a difference varies from person to person but here’s something that will definitely make a difference regardless of your political persuasion: Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc.
PHWFF provides fly fishing, fly casting, and fly tying instruction for wounded military personnel. If you are proficient in any of these areas this great organization can find a use for you.
If you’re not confident in your instructional abilities but would like to contribute to PHWFF please mail your check to:
Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. PO Box 695 La Plata, MD 20624