Article by Bryce A. Benson, Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing: Walter Reed Program.
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July 28-30, 2019 – Spruce Creek, PA: HomeWaters, one of the most exclusive fly-fishing clubs in America, once again extended their hospitality, guides, and access to the famous Spruce Creek. HomeWaters, founded in 2001 as a private club, has welcomed the Walter Reed Program of Project Healing Waters for 15 years and provided an amazing experience for our wounded and injured, warriors. In addition to the Walter Reed warriors, participants from other regional and local programs have been a part of the annual trip. (tip: check out the photo gallery below!)
During the two-day trip, 12 active duty and retired service members logged nearly 100 hours fishing native trout streams with guides who have amassed an impressive 600 years of collective experience. Drawing on their knowledge of Spruce Creek, our warriors landed the biggest trout they had ever caught. Long time participant and Vietnam Veteran, Edward DesLauriers “Frenchy”, who is well known for his outgoing and gracious character, caught a brown trout that stretched beyond 27 inches. Using two hands to hold it up for the picture, he exclaimed, “they don’t come much bigger than this!”. That statement was echoed by many during the trip.
In addition to spending time in the stream, our wounded warriors participated in a fly-tying demonstration by local legend Kevin Compton of Performance Flies. Focusing on the life span of the Caddis fly, from pupa to adult, Kevin shared his extensive knowledge of the caddis fly and technique of tying world class flies.
Chef Judy and her remarkable crew may have provided the most popular events of the trip – breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Year after year, her Peach French Toast is the talk of the breakfast table while everyone enjoyed the communion of friendship. As Erin said, “If you leave any meal hungry, it is your own fault”. Erin also caught a carp – a fish rarely seen on Spruce Creek.
HomeWaters’ sponsorship of Project Healing Waters through the year is a gold standard of support for our warriors. The annual experience of bringing people together centered around a supportive community provides hope and encouragement. We are thankful for our partnership with HomeWaters and are tremendously grateful for the donation of $12,000 from their membership (a total of over $120,000 over 15 years). Their tremendous generosity allows us to continue supporting the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and disabled veterans through fly fishing and associated activities. We can’t wait to go back next year.