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Story by Kim Bransom La Plata MD Program Lead

Pictures by Kim Bransom and Larry Braswell

Despite the turn in weather, the La Plata, MD PHWFF program has been busy!

On Sunday, November 25, a group of 7 participants and volunteers traveled to Fredericksburg, VA to meet with Pete Robertson, a Vietnam veteran and certified casting instructor with the Quantico program for a casting clinic. Pete and his wife Julie have a beautiful farm, and graciously opened their home to us. Many of the members of the La Plata program had never touched a fly rod prior to Project Healing Waters, and Pete had a whole course set up to help us learn mechanics and form. After lunch, the group was back at it, learning roll casts, shooting line, and working on accuracy. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the day, the camaraderie, Pete’s expertise, and the laughs!

Casting Clinic

Pete and Gail working on Gails technique before she heads to Belize

Stu Thomas

At our normal meeting on Monday, November 26, our group learned to tie the Lefty’s Deceiver fly. Since most of our local fishing is 8 weight, we wanted to tie flies that could be used in the lower Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay. This pattern was chosen in preparation for a striped bass fly fishing trip that was scheduled for December 4 with Captain Chad Koenig, an Air Force veteran who owns Dog Days Fishing charter in southern Maryland. Sadly, though our fly-boxes were well stocked, the trip was canceled due to wind and weather conditions. The fish were just too deep in the cold water to be able to reach them with a fly rod. However, the captain is eager to take us out in the spring when the stripers start coming back up to more shallow water and we can get a lot of surface and subsurface action.

L-R Eric Martin Larry Kelly Josh Knotts Larry Thompson Val Wadsworth

Up close with Stu Thomas

On December 4, Duke Davis came to our meeting and gave us an introduction to rod building. Several of our participants will be entering the upcoming rod building contest and almost no one in our crew has ever built a rod before! Duke went over the basics in supplies and technique, showing us how to prepare the cork handle, spine a rod blank, attach the handle and reel seat, mark the locations for the guides, and a quick demonstration of how to attach a guide. He went over the laundry list of supplies needed, and at least one of our participants will probably own stock in before it is all over! Needless to say, he was instantly hooked on this new aspect of fly fishing. As always, when Duke is around, there were a lot of jokes, friendly teasing, and laughter, and we learned a couple things too.

L-R Duke Davis-Val Wadsworth-Larry Thompson-PL Kim Bransom-Larry Kelly-Stu Thompson-Denis Eichorn-Greg Johnson-Tim Cooke

Listening intently to the master

The bar at the Moose Lodge makes the perfect place to lay out the tape measure and mark where your guides go

Duke teaches Val how to ream the cork handle….nope, no jokes made here at all….

Duke shows how to wind the thread onto the foot of the guide