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PHWFF JBLM Continues its Fly Fishing Challenge

June 24, 2021

By Mark Emiley

This year the Joint Base Lewis-McChord PHWFF Program developed a challenge for its members to promote participants to try to seek out catching a variety of fish, in lieu of simply one favorite species. By tackling learning the techniques, flies, and gear for different species, we expand our knowledge of the sport and can become more diverse and educated fisherfolk.

The challenge allocates ‚Äúpoints‚ÄĚ for different species and sizes of fish caught while fly fishing but you can only earn points for one species (you can‚Äôt catch 20 rainbow trout and earn 20 points). Each quarter the points for each participant are tallied up and they earn entries into a drawing for prizes like gear or gift certificates. Their slates are wiped clean every quarter for a new round of points leading up to another drawing. At the end of the year, all points from all quarters are tallied up for entries for a guided fly fishing trip.

The first quarter wrapped up and Josh Howen won a gift certificate to Peninsula Outfitters after earning points for catching a sea run cutthroat and a resident coho, both of which were 2 point fish. The second quarter is about to wrap up on June 30th where another gift certificate will be awarded to a drawing winner. All entrants have to do is send in pictures of their fish with the fly in they used in the photo and send it to the program lead.

This has been a great motivation to break out of our molds and really explore more of the aspects of the hobby. We’ve been able to learn about new fish, get to cover more varieties of water, and fully utilize our gear and fly inventory all while getting a chance to win some cool prizes. Thanks to the program leadership for putting this project together and best of luck to all of the participants through the rest of the year!

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Korean War Vet + Idaho Falls Program = Healing Those Who Serve

January 12, 2021

Our Nation Honors Her Sons and Daughters Who Answered the Call to Defend a Country They Never Knew and a People They Never Met

Korean War Veterans Memorial

By Scott Ferrara, Program Lead, Idaho Falls Program

With all our great-nation experienced during 2020; pandemic, isolation, rioting, and elections it’s easy for stories of veterans helping each other to get lost in all the noise. A principle all veterans live by is, Leave No One Behind. So, I want to bring to your attention a story about a Korean War Vet, PHWFF Idaho Falls Program, COVID illness, our mission, and doing what is required to Leave No One Behind!


Meet Jim Corns, one of our participants, Korean War disabled veteran, and a true inspiration to all who meet him. Jim was born in a cabin, in the Smokey Mountains of North Carolina, raised by his grandparents, and grew up running the woods just outside a Cherokee Reservation. At the age of 16, he joined the U.S. Army and headed off to Ft. Gordon, GA, for basic and infantry training. He then went to and graduated Airborne School, and was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division. The Screaming Eagles welcomed him with orders to the Republic of Korea (ROK), so as the year came to an end this 16-year-old found himself on the front lines in a strange land. Jim served in a ground reconnaissance unit which was in contact with the enemy every time they were out on patrol. As if the daily fire-fights, human waves, and conditions, weren’t enough an infectious hepatitis broke out among his unit. Of the 11 people he was evacuated with seven died, but Jim was able to beat the sickness. With his combat experience and his health not back to 100%, the Army assigned him as an instructor to teach soldiers heading to the ROK. He continued his service with the Army and in the late 1950’s at the end of his enlistment, Staff Sergeant Corns was offered flight school as the helicopter proved itself in the ROK and trouble was brewing in a Southeast Asian country called, Vietnam. By this time, Jim was married and had a family, so he turned down the offer, was honorable discharged, and transitioned into civilian life. Jim worked numerous jobs finally settling into the field of HVAC, with Trane Technologies. There he worked his way up through the ranks of service, sales, management, and finally as the company’s Safety Officer and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) coordinator. After 50+ years of working, Jim retired and he and his wife, Jean, settled in Idaho. This brings me to the present, meeting Jim & Jean, joining Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) and the Idaho Falls Program family.

I first met Jim & Jean at a local fishing show. I learned of his service, post military career, disability, and how losing his best friend during combat actions in the ROK has affected his whole life. What immediately impressed me was his zest for life and toughness. For example, on his 80th birthday Jim skydived over the Grand Canyon! However, what was also apparent as I listened to him was how his disability and PTSD had affected his whole life. Jim has enjoyed motorcycles, the NFL Ravens football team, and fishing his whole life, but throwing himself fully into his work left him with no real hobbies for post-retirement life. After signing him up, we had him attend our tying sessions and outings. Jim had never fly fished or tied flies before, but he immediately noticed the calming effect time at the vise had on him. Also, how the natural healing powers of Mother Nature, a fly rod in hand, and the repetition of fly casting, started to heal his wounded soul. Then, the pandemic hit and per directives from the PHWFF President & CEO, we stopped all in-person activities. We started our virtual tying program and Jim was an active participant right up till Jean notified us Jim was sick, COVID positive, and in for a fight. Although he’s a tough man, has overcome and beat back serious illness before, this new virus, with all its unknowns, was having a seriously negative effect on the nation’s elderly. We immediately mobilized and members put together tying & material kits, delivered them to Jim, provided tying instructions, and basically just being there for him and Jean on anything they needed, to ensure we Leave No One Behind.


We’re happy to report both Jim & Jean beat COVID, and are doing well. Jean told us our efforts were a god-send not only before they got sick, but especially helpful while they isolated and battled the virus. Jim would drag himself to the vise and tie flies from the kits, books, videos, and links we delivered. It’s always nice to hear a PHWFF success story, but this one is special to the Idaho Falls Program. Jim and Jean are one of us and the PHWFF mission, vision, & core values, made a difference in this Korean War and disabled veteran’s life. Jim is looking forward to the day the pandemic is behind us and we can meet, tie, and fish again. So are we Jim, so are we!

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JBLM Selects its 2020 Volunteer and Participant of the Year

December 21, 2020

By Bruce Tyson, PL, JBLM Program

On 9 December 2020, during a general membership meeting Rick Davidson was named Volunteer of the Year and Mark Emiley the Participant of the Year.

With an active Program like Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), it’s hard to select just two people to receive these awards. However, when we weighed contribution and attendance in our decision-making process, two clear winners rose to the top. So, on behalf of all the participants & volunteers of the JBLM Program, we salute Rick and Mark for upholding the mission, vision, & core values of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing!

Rick Davidson, SFC(R), USA: Rick joined the JBLM Program at the beginning of the 2019 year. His skills as a fly tier were immediately noticed. He was an avid fly tier for many years before, but strayed away after he got a boat and started chasing our world-famous Pacific Salmon out in open water. His wit and humor were infectious and was always fun to be around. Rick is a disabled vet and originally joined as such. However, when the JBLM Program brainstormed a better way to initiate new personnel into the world of tying flies, he volunteered to develop the instructional phase of our Level I & II flies. So, he was moved to a dual status and was designated as the Program‚Äôs Volunteer Tying Leader. The scope of this position was setting up a new participant fly tier with a vise, tools, material kits, and instructions to tie each of the 12 flies. This not only gives a new tier a box of flies that he/she can use in our area, but also each fly teaches a new fly-tying skill required to move on to the Level III workshops. Then, COVID-19 hit and all meetings, outings, any other sort of get-together‚Äôs were canceled. Of his own accord, Rick not only continued on with the original tasking, but also figured out how to do it virtually. He assembled a set of short videos of must know foundation skills, submitted a materials order list, broke them down into kits, produced step-by-step online handouts, and reinforced it all with videos of him tying and explaining each fly. As if that wasn‚Äôt enough to qualify him, he researched audio/visual gear, submitted a list to order, and once all cameras, microphones, lighting, and software were on hand, he put together a studio to host first-class virtual fly tying and fly-fishing educational events. Rick likes to fish too a lot, and is always available to provide information on little known access sites and fishing reports. Extremely good to know stuff for anyone who has swung flies or nymphed for Steelhead! For his dedication to the disabled vets of the JBLM Program, allowing us to continue to provide emotional and physical healing during a national pandemic, it‚Äôs an honor to name Rick Davidson as our 2020 Volunteer of the Year.

Mark Emiley, Former CAPT, USAF: Mark joined the JBLM Program in early 2020. He was absolutely new to fly tying and knew nothing about fly fishing. However, he was extremely interested in what we were doing and participated in all of our activities. With one of our vises and tool kits, he attended a couple of our tying events at the Puget Sound Fly Company. Then the South Puget Sound went into isolation along with the rest of state. Luckily, we were already getting ready to institute our New Fly Tier Program. With PHWFF partnering with PostFly and the availability + ease of obtaining fly tying kits we started with those. Plus, he was the perfect candidate, eager to participate and hungry for fly-tying and fishing knowledge. Once we received our ordered bulk tying material for the Level I & II kits, the Program’s Volunteer Tying Leader started building kits and mailing them out. Along with our weekly virtually tying events and practice, Mark became a pretty competent fly tier, so much so, he even entered the 2020 PHWFF Fly Tying Contest. His casting and fly fishing has really come along too. Especially his saltwater skills. Fly fishing the salt comes with its own set of challenges, short heavy leaders, special lines, long casts, and often heavy wind. Much different than casting an #18 dry fly to a spooky trout. Plus, the fly you tied and are using better have an appearance and action that attracts a lot of attention in a very huge body of water. Below is a picture of Mark with a nice Puget Sound Sea Run Cutthroat Trout. Mark is also willing to help out whenever needed, and most recently, when our Program’s Outreach Coordinator position came open, it was offered, and he quickly accepted. He has become an important participant member of our Program in a very short amount of time and in a year where we can‚Äôt even meet face to face. For his dedication to working with the PHWFF JBLM program, willingness to always help, being an inspiration, and really enjoying fly tying and fishing (look at that smile) we are proud to have Mark as our 2020 Participant of the Year.


Both Rick & Mark have received certificates and Orvis fishing shirts with the PHWFF logo.

Northwest Region Announces 2020 Volunteer and Participant of the Year Awards

December 15, 2020

by Alan Fitzpatrick, RC, NW Region

On 15 December 2020, the NW Region of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) announced the selection of Bruce Tyson as Volunteer of the Year and James Boden as Participant of the Year during the Region’s final 2020 virtual event, Fly Tying with Fitz.

Bruce Tyson, LTC(R), USA: Bruce has been an active volunteer since joining the Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) Program in 2011. He took over as the Program Lead in 2019, and immediately started building the Program’s influence in the area he served, located new disabled vets in need of emotional and physical healing, partnered with a local fly shop, organized tying events in the community, recruited guest tiers, and brought in very generous donations to fund and equip the Program. As 2020 brought on isolation, restrictions, and cancellation of all events he quickly organized key personnel and started the first Program level virtual tying events. His virtual events grew with people seeking out PHWFF PostFly tying and info on the New Fly Tier Program he instituted. Bruce could always be counted on to assist the NW with input, projects, donations, and core programs. Anyone who has attended the NW Region’s annual 2-Fly event on the Yakima River, has witnessed his influence and presence. JBLM was also the first to achieve 100% registration, logging all activities/events, and established many standard operating procedures adopted by other Programs and PHWFF HQ. If you’ve taken the Salesforce/Contact Relationship Management (CRM) training, you’ve seen his work as JBLM is used for visual examples. He is a one fine fisherman too and can often be found on the sticks guiding participants, teaching them how to nymph, or netting giants with his famous “Bead Fly!” Bruce was an easy pick and we thank him for his years of service and leadership. His dedication and professionalism reflect great credit upon himself, NW Region, and Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing.

James Boden, MSG(R), USA: Jim joined the JBLM Program in 2018. He had just transferred into the JBLM’s Warrior Transition Battalion, for follow-on surgeries, rehabilitation, and medical boards for injuries received while deployed as an Army Reservist. He was newly out of a wheel chair when the JBLM Program brought him in and started teaching him fly tying to help him with pain and medication side effects. Through the tying program, Jim started to make improvements both physically and mentally. PHWFF was doing what it was designed to do! When the JBLM leadership decided to keep advancing his healing they encouraged him to enter the PHWFF Fly Tying Contest. They guided him through fly selection, practice, and submission. A Carrie Stevens Blue Devil classic streamer was selected to really challenge him. He did great and much to Jim’s surprise, he won the beginner category of the 7th Annual Fly-Tying Contest. By this time Jim was a believer in the PHWFF experience. So much so, he started to volunteer for projects, fundraisers, and to help new participants learn how to tie flies. To watch his transformation from a skin and bones, sunken eyes, struggling disabled vet to an active participant, light back in his eyes, and a PHWFF success was really great! He continued to work the program, became quite a decent fly fisherman, and an amazing fly tier. He even developed his own patterns. When the 2020 competitions started, he entered one of his patterns called, The Uncle Sam, and won the intermediate category of the 8th Annual Fly-Tying Contest. Today, Jim is medically retired, 100% disabled, and home with his family. Although his injuries prevent him from returning to his pre-deployment career as a K9 Deputy Sheriff, he continues tying flies, fly-fishing, and helping fellow disabled vets. He was an easy pick for positively representing disabled vets and bringing to light the challenges they face. Jim often uses his story to inform people, groups, and clubs the benefits of PHWFF. His commitment to the mission, vision, and core values reflect great credit upon himself, NW Region, Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, and disabled vets world wide.

NW Region’s Virtual Fly Tying

December 8, 2020

As COVID-19 started to grip the nation the Northwest Region was one of the first to start holding virtual tying events and has been online every week since March 2020

As directives from Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing President and CEO, Todd Desgrosseilliers, were issued our Regional Coordinator, Alan “Fitz” Fitzpatrick grabbed the bull by the horns and set-up shop.

To ensure the continued emotional and physical healing of the disabled veterans he serves, Fitz began hosting tying events on our PHWFF – NW Region Facebook Page. It was an immediate success not only because of content, but how professionally Fitz conducted the events. When you watched the events it was hard to believe he was sitting in a room, by himself, looking into a camera lens, and speaking only to a microphone. He was and is that good!

Besides the Northwest, there were people from all over the U.S. attending on a regular basis. Fitz has even packed up shop and took it on the road doing a whole show with experts on Euro Nymphing. His knowledge and lessons learned over many shows has been invaluable to NW Programs as they shopped for audio-visual gear, software, and started their own virtual tying events.

As we head into 2021, Fitz has decided to back off his Facebook Live events not to compete and allowing Program Leads to provided content that best fits their members and areas. We would like to thank Fitz for leading by example, setting the standard, and providing much needed relief through the year.

Update on PHWFF JBLM’s Healing Saturday

September 17, 2020

Hello Fellow Anglers and Conservationists,

Like any other individual, business, student, or worker, Project Healing Waters has also had a tough year.¬† Since March, all we can do is have “virtual” meetings – which we have been doing about twice weekly, tying flies or showing an educational video.¬† We are still not permitted to meet face to face until at least the end of the year.¬† Since much of our population is more vulnerable, our recovery program is quite conservative.¬† Due to the overall situation, our fundraising has also been disrupted significantly.¬† That said, perhaps our biggest annual fundraiser is coming up shortly.¬† Our “Healing Saturday” is September 26.¬† This is normally a time when we’ll get together at a local fly shop, have some raffles, and auction off gear in order to raise money, in addition to the online contributions that we get.¬† We can’t do that this year.¬† Online is the basically the only way we can receive funding. All that said, I would like to encourage you to go online and make a contribution.¬† We have this set up now so you can donate directly to the JBLM Program.¬† Just use the following link on our¬†Facebook site or go directly to our Network For Good:

JBLM Network For Good Donation Site
Help provide disabled veterans with the support they need on their journeys to recovery. Make a difference today! We are unique in that our volunteers are teaching classes on an on-going, long term basis. It is much more than a one day fishing trip. For many participants, the socialization and camaraderie of the classes are just as important as the fishing outings.

It’s really quick and easy and you’ll know your donation will be used locally.Thank you all for your support of PHWFF!


Bruce Tyson


Program Leader, Joint Base Lewis-McChord

PHWFF NW Region’s Virtual Tying Hits The Road!

June 19, 2020

The NW Region has been broadcasting virtual fly tying night since mid-March, and we’re now featuring guest tiers and on the road to bring new and interesting people & places.

Every Tuesday night, the NW’s Regional Coordinator, Alan Fitzpatrick, goes LIVE on¬† Facebook at 7p PST. This coming week, June 23rd, he will pack up his gear and travel to West Linn, Oregon, and the Royal Treatment Fly Shop, on the banks of the Willamette River. They are long time supporters of the Portland and Vancouver Program.

Nick Wheeler, from the shop will host us for a night of discussion and tying flies for euro-nymphing. This style of fly fishing requires some specialized gear, but is an extremely effective way that allows you to fish every inch of a run. The flies are specialized too, but not complicated. They’re designed to sink quick and get down to where the fish hold.

Besides discussing this style of fishing, gear, and techniques, they’ll tie some euro-nymph flies that will allow you an easy way to dive into the basics of euro-style flies. They are:

  • Sexy Walt – A caddis pupa imitation, great this time of the year for any of our western rivers.
  • Peacock Perdigon – A perdigon nymph is the backbone fly to any euro-nympher and should always be in every fly box. (Link Coming Soon)
  • Drag Queen – A new age spin on the Pheasant Tail patten with multiple hot spot and a big bright pink bead.¬†

Make sure you stop by and check this one out and keep on an eye on the NW Blog and our Facebook page for upcoming guest tiers and other places we’re visiting. A big thank you to Joel & his staff at the fly shop for hosting us and their continued support of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing. Make sure you check out their web page and Facebook.



PHWFF NW Region Grows With Five New Programs

June 8, 2020

On 1 June, it became official the four Programs from Idaho and one from Eastern Washington joined the NW Region. Welcome to the following Programs:

We’d like to welcome our new brothers & sisters and look forward to meeting and fishing with you guys!

You can read more about this Regional re-organization here: PHWFF Regions reorganized to better serve area veterans

PHWFF Ft. Lewis Program Changes It’s Name

May 12, 2020

The Ft Lewis Program has now become the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Program (JBLM). It’s a bit more current with the times and more accurately details the disabled veterans we serve.

Our mission remains the same and uninterrupted. We look forward to continuing our relationship with disabled veterans, local businesses, donors, and the community in our area.

Tight lines!

PHWFF Ft. Lewis Program’s New Fly Tier Program

May 8, 2020

At the beginning of 2020, in conjunction with the Mid-Willamette Valley Program, we developed a fly tying program for new members. It’s a three level program starting off with a 20 minute video called, Fly Tying 101. This arms the tier with the basics required to start fly tying like hook anatomy, how to put a hook into the jaws, starting thread, thread selection, etc.

After the tiers complete Fly Tying 101, they’re ready to start Level I, which consists of six flies. These flies were chosen primarily to teach a fly tying skill, but they also work here in Pacific Northwest, so the tiers are building a fly box at the same time. Once the tiers complete Level I, they continue onto Level II, which is another six flies and teaches more advanced skills. Level III consists of workshops where we’ll offer the tiers a type of fly fishing, Euronymph, Steelhead, Stillwater, etc., and they go through that level tying flies, practical application with outings, and culminates in building a rod for the type of fishing selected.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our state’s stay-at-home order, and PHWFF HQ announcement of no public meetings, we initiated our Level I tying program through MS Teams. Our Tying Leader, Rick Davidson, put together packets for fly number one, mailed them out, and this last Wednesday, 7 May, at 1900 hrs PST, we held our first session. Rick did a great job and all the new fly tiers were able to follow along and tie two flies. The packets they received had enough material in each one to tie five flies, so they can practice on their own. The new fly tiers have been emailing pictures of the flies they tied on their own and Rick has been providing them feedback. It’s not the ideal way to teach fly tying, but in these weird times we’re providing the best healing we can. Rick is also setting up one-one Teams meeting with tiers as needed.

Lessons learned from this first session for any other Program that is planning on doing this:

  • Do a full dress rehersal before going live. We did this and it really helped working out angles & lighting.
  • Bring all participants in for a quick Teams meeting and get them acquainted with options & settings. Showing them ahead of time how to pin the instructors screen will save a lot of time and allow you to get straight to tying.
  • During your pre-tying Teams meeting make sure you tell your people Teams only shows the last four participants who spoke. We had 11 people in our meeting, but you can see in the video only four are shown. That’s why it’s important the tiers know how to pin the instructor’s screen!

Next week we’ll do fly number two of Level I. After that, we’ll take a break from tying and bring in the rest of the Program and provide an educational session teaching Entomology for fly fishing. Finally, we couldn’t make all this happen without the help of the Puget Sound Fly Co. They got us all the material for the packets we sent out.