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Four Project Healing Waters participants were hosted May 9-13 for lodging, meals, and three days’ fishing on Montana’s famous, scenic Madison River.  Nancy and Dan Delekta, owners of Beartooth Flyfishing, and several of their friends provided the finest in lodging and meals, and Dan, Marty, Ian, and Bob, all experienced guides, knew exactly where the big ones lived, what flies to use, and how to fish for them.  The fishing featured both wade and drift boat fishing on various different sections of the river.  Despite the river flowing at record high levels for mid-May, the fishing was outstanding, with all of the anglers landing several big, wild rainbows and browns.  Everyone was amazed at the size and strength of the fish, especially when, after being hooked, they ripped off downstream in the strong Madison current.  Needless to say, there were a lot of ldr.’s (long distance releases).

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Dan, who is a nationally famous fly tier, taught a fly tying class one evening, and the participants had a chance to fish some of their own creations the next day.

Two of the participants elected to take a day off from fishing, and Dan took them on a tour of the nearby Yellowstone National Park.  They had an unforgettable day, seeing geysers, huge waterfalls, grizzly bears, elk, and bison.

Everyone raved about their experience, learned a lot, and would highly recommend this event for other Project Healing Waters veterans.  We would like to thank Dan, Nancy, and everyone else that made this unforgettable trip possible. – Bob Frey, Volunteer Trip Leader

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Here is a testimonial from Dan Headley who is from the Morgantown, WV PHWFF Program and was one of the PHWFF Participants on this trip:

Fly fishing for roughly 4 years I still have a lot to learn. Almost all my fly fishing has been for smallmouth with an occasional interruption, as I viewed it, for a lowly trout. I knew if I were to fish for trout seriously I needed to learn more about trout and the nymph fishing process. I got a call from Aaron Barkhurst, our PHWFF Program Lead (PL) in Morgantown, WV that propelled me to Montana and the chance at 3 and ½ days of steady nymph fishing, May 9th through the 13th. A dream trip for sure.

Not able to sleep the morning of the 9th I was up at 2 am for the hour and a half trip to Pittsburgh with a takeoff time of 7:15 am. Flying to Denver then to Bozeman, Montana, where I was met by Bob Frey, the PHWFF Volunteer Trip Leader for the event and Bobby Hall our vet from our Charleston, WV program. Bob got us to the Beartooth Fly Fishing Lodge on the Madison River where Bobby and I met John and Jim our fellow PHWFF vets from Virginia.

Upon arriving we wasted no time in getting to fishing below the lodge on the Madison. And not to be disappointed we were into fish right away. Beartooth Fly Fishing is a full service fishing lodge with amazing rooms, all the fly fishing gear that a shop could have, and great fishing guides. They have the best fly-fishing shop I have ever seen. And not to be overlooked the food was great. I gained 8 pounds during the trip. Every day we had a big breakfast, a nice packed lunch for on the river, including trout cookies, and a very nice dinner upon returning. Nobody went hungry.

We had three days of intense fishing. We divided up into two groups of two vets each. One group waded with Bob Frey and the other group floated. I was paired with Jim from Richmond, we floated the first day with a Beartooth guide and John and Bobby waded with Bob. The second day we swapped with John and Bobby floating and Jim and I wading with Bob. Bob is 74 and if I get to fish with him again I’m going to put a rock in his shoe so he slows down and I can keep up with him.

The third day was changed up a little with a sightseeing trip to Yellowstone Park for anyone that wanted to go. John and I chose to stay on the Madison and fish. John waded with Bob Frey and I solo fished with my guide Marty from the raft. The float we decided to do did not allow us to fish from the raft. We found good looking spots then got out and waded.

During the trip everyone caught fish every day they fished. The water was up a little more every day, making the wading challenging at times and cloudy because of the snow melt in the mountains, but fishable. We didn’t catch as many fish as we could have with better water conditions but we had fine fishing anyway despite Mother Nature. With the scenery, the fine fishing, great food, and the people it was an absolutely great trip.

By Saturday we were all so tired that we quite literally had to go home to rest. A week later I am still recovering. I would like to take this time to thank Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing for a great trip, Bob Frey for coordinating the trip (he coordinates about 4 to 5 trips a year), Dan and Nancy Delekta owners of Beartooth Fly Fishing Lodge for the great hospitality, and Paul Moore and Aaron Barkhurst for putting me in for the spot on the trip. I learned a lot and am ready to tackle our local fish and streams. I would also appreciate it if no one tells Aaron that trout have moved up my list to almost equal with my beloved Smallmouth.