Off to another valley and a brand new adventure, these three days found me on the Big Hole river guiding a Project Healing Waters trip for the Complete Fly Fisher in Wise River. For those that don’t know about this program, it is for veterans of our armed forces to give them a chance to experience the outdoors and heal from years on our front lines. These guys are the real deal, having served our country valiantly and unselfishly in foreign lands far away from family and friends, and definitely a long ways from blue ribbon trout water.
Will and Randy were my troops, and they ate up all the lessons I could throw at them for our trip. More comfortable with an M16 or an M1 Abrams tank than a fly rod, we had to slowly build up confidence and technique with the fishing to get these guys up to speed. Backcasts, line control, mending, setting fish, fighting fish, and a myriad of other subjects were addressed on our daily floats as we cruised many miles of the famous Big Hole river.
By our third day, these boys could chuck a streamer or drop a double nymph set into any bucket on the river, finding good fish at will rather than by luck. I took them down the Dewey canyon and partway through the Melrose canyon, some of the hardest and quickest water on that river. Using those previous two days of instructions and beatings to our advantage, this quick water was filled with willing fish and the casts were on target and fished proper. With solid technique, fish came to hand readily and snag ups and screw ups were minimal, the three of us having a blast and talking hunting, fishing, war games, and how to properly demolish an enemy railroad. Good shit!
Thank you to our veterans and active service members for all that you’ve done for this great country, here and overseas. These guys are regular Joes, just like you and me, but have taken an oath to defend our country and gone through some serious shit because of that oath. Whether you support our country’s decisions as per warfare or not, these men and women have selflessly upheld the values we Americans take way to easily for granted, and they deserve our honor and respect, and maybe even a stud brown trout or Big Hole sunrise sometimes! Thanks guys… Jed