Thursday, July 9, 2015

Project Healing Waters Weekend

"Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, 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."
The Middle TN Project Healing Waters event is in the books and Middle TN Fly Fishers did an outstanding job again this year!  Fortunately, I was able to attend both days and guide a couple groups to some pretty nice fish. To get there I left the Elk after some good-time on the water. On the way I stopped by the house to clean the boat, tie some extra flies, and get at least a part of a night's sleep. After all that the drifter was hooked to the truck and I was making my way to Long Branch campground.
The topic of conversation that morning was the rain. The river looked like a bottle of Yoohoo in the lower sections. Stopping at the different access' the closer I got to the dam the better the water looked. The dirty water would put most of the boats in the upper section and the strategy would be to get in line and keep the right distance, while trying to put my guys in the right spots to catch fish. 
Darby and Josh would be on the drifter the first day. We managed to get going at a good time, make our way through the canoe and kayak hatches, then found a good pace to keep us in position to stay pretty much to ourselves. The boats spread out and the guys began getting into fish almost right away. 
At one point during the morning it rained and it rained hard. The rain was coming in sheets across the river. In the words of Forrest Gump " Little bity stingin' rain...and big ol' fat rain. Rain that flew in sideways". Most people pulled to the side and tried to find cover. We kept fishing and brought some nice fish to the net throughout the downpours. Then the sun came out and so did the brown trout. There were some pretty decent fish eating our flies as we tried to keep pace and pull aside when needed.

The weather, the fish and the company made this day pretty darn enjoyable for me. The guys learned to slow water nymph and brushed up on their casting skills too. Depth was the key to the bite good. We adjusted our share of indicators and lost our share of nymphs. That's normal when fishing these conditions. The guys returned to the event grounds and explained the fish and events of the day. Their friends were in somewhat of disbelief. So just to help them out, guys here are the photos to assist with any further discussion.  As my uncle says "bring the camera David we are going to need proof that we went fishing"... 
After a pretty good night's sleep I was back at the event and loading up for day two. Walter and Tom would be my anglers for the day and we would be among the first on the water. While the other boats were getting a shove off the trailer, we were slipping away form the gravel bar to begin our float. Hydration would be the key on this day and we went through some large amounts of water. The sky was clear and the sun was bright.
Walter had never had the opportunity to fish the fly rod. So, for the first hour we worked strictly on the cast until he could get some distance. Tom is an accomplished angler and we worked on presentation. It wasn't long before Tom was bringing fish to the net and was bringing smiles to the boat.
Walter dialed in a decent cast and when he set the hook it his first fish on the fly and the boat's first double of the day. We kept fishing nymphs, but also added midge patterns fished along the shoals. Both presentations are similar and the addition kept the results coming our way.
The heat of the clear skies began to take its toll and we moved the drifter to the shade with every opportunity. The fish kept coming in all the high-value areas, but only with the correct presentation. We kept working on presentation and when it was correct the fish would respond nicely.

We made a break for the takeout and arrived before any of the other boats. Tom really got tuned into the presentation techniques we worked on and the fish tuned into his offerings. Walter learned the long rod is not all about standing in the river waving a stick and was able to catch his first fish on the fly. The day was another good one and with the drifter on the trailer we headed back to camp. 

Two days of challenge and fun. That is my best description of the event. From heavy rain to sunny skies we brought a nice number of fish to hand while helping do a very small part of making this event another success.
If you are a seasoned angler or have never picked up a fly rod and want to set up a day on the river e-mail or call/text 615-796-5143 to book a day on the water. For additional booking information see our Homepage and to see the latest fishing report click here.

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