With a thunder raging overhead on September weekend a small group of Veterans and volunteers with PHWFF Indy headed south to the Cumberland River for two days on the tail waters below the Wolf Creek Dam.
The rain poured down buckets while gathering at Roudebush VA to pack up. They left the storms of rain and life behind and there were no bread crumbs to follow. After a stop for dinner the team arrived at the Riverside Retreat to a waiting campfire and s’mores before going to bed.
The Cumberland tail waters are some of the best Trout fishing east of the Mississippi and held the promise of beautiful waters and great fishing. The team woke early the next morning to a hot breakfast prepared by the volunteers, and set out for the boat launch at Winfrey’s Ferry. The Cumberland is almost always foggy in the morning. The lifting fog made for a beautiful run down the river to the trout ripples. Herons, Ospreys, and Bald Eagles flew as the sun played rainbows in the fog. A few minutes after wetting the first line the team had the skunk off with a nice little brown trout. Several trout were played and a few were landed the first day. Pat and Kate each boated fish and Pat had a really nice rainbow. Geoff had the story of the ‘one that got away’ to share over our Spaghetti dinner that night. Another evening spent briefly at the campfire sharing fishing stories with our neighbors and sharing a Dutch oven cake cooked over the coals offered a setting to unwind and prep for sleep which came quickly.
Saturday came early as the volunteers again prepared a warm hearty breakfast. The team met guide Brandon Wade of the Cumberland Drifters and put in at the Wolf Creek Hatchery. The fog was thick and the river was flowing gently as we launched off for another day of fly fishing on the water.
Each of the Veterans had a chance to fish with Brandon Wade in his handmade wooden McKenzie Drift boat. Geoff wasted no time getting the first fish and got on a roll boating several fish in the drift.
Kate landed a couple of nice rainbows and lost a strong fish that put a deep bend in the rod. Later as the fog cleared she switched to Hoppers and boated 4 more top water fish.
We stopped for lunch and watched the water start to rise as the water from the generators opened by TVA finally caught up with us. The fishing slowed as the river sped up… and after a few more hours the takeout appeared too quickly and this adventure on the river concluded. The boats were loaded and the team said goodbye to our host Brandon. We traveled in good conversation and the stories helped pass the time. The veterans shared how important PHWFF trips like this… fly fishing on a beautiful river, catching their first trout, and bonding with other veterans and volunteers… are to finding peace in their lives. Then as we traveled north the clouds darkened, the rain fell, and storms found us again. But at least for 2 beautiful days there were no storms, just… healing waters.