"Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc.™ is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and disabled veterans through fly fishing and associated activities including education and outings."
This weekend was the annual Tennessee Valley Region Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Outing. I've been lucky to be a part of this event for several years and each year I enjoy the time I spend guiding the veterans who fish out of the F/V Southeastern Fly. They are "my vets" for the day and we have fun.
So on the morning of the event I towed the drifter to the campground and asked who would be my anglers for the day? The coordinator pointed me to Clarence and Gary. Each had practiced their casting and turned out to be pretty good for their limited experience. Neither had fished with a fly rod.
Clarence and Gary loaded up and we hit the river. This would be a short float as we needed to keep the guys close to the campground. However, that didn't keep us from catching our share of the Caney Fork trout. Clarence was the first to get a solid hit, but the fish spit the fly before the the line came tight. Gary was quick to learn and stuck the fish shortly thereafter. Gary would be the first to catch a fish on this day. This was one for the good guys in the boat.
Clarence learned from his first bout with the trout of the Caney and when he got his next chance his line came tight and Clarence boated his trout on a fly rod as well. We spent the next hours hitting all the likely spots. We ended the day in a good run that produced its share of good fish. The finale was all Clarence. Clarence hooked and fought a larger rainbow before the fish let go of the hook and was deemed "the one that got away". We ended the day on that note and headed to the ramp.
I could talk for hours about how this event affects the participants and the guides. The written words just don't seem to do the Tennessee Valley Region Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Outing justice. So let me leave you with this invitation. If you want to help with the event next year please let me know and I will get you in touch with the folks who put it together. If you are on the fence about supporting this event, my suggestion would be to volunteer just one year. Let that experience help you decide if it is worth your time the next year... My bet would be that you would want to come back the following year just like me.