On March 19, 2022, thirteen participants from the Atlanta Program were treated to a truly unforgettable day of angling at Mountaintown Trout, a private fly fishing venue located in the mountains of North Georgia. Weather and water conditions were perfect.
After arriving and donning waders, participants were matched up with guides and then enjoyed scenic rides in golf carts to angling beats spread along the 2-mile stretch of trophy trout stream.
It was quickly discovered by our crew of participants that the brilliantly colored trout that inhabit the stream would require heavy tippet, exceptional fish fighting skill, and a solid “net man”. The beauty and strength of these healthy trout are a result of hard work, knowledge, and stewardship of this special resource. Mountaintown Trout guides poured everything they had into our participants’ angling experience. Their knowledge of the fishery and excellent fly fishing instruction were topped only by their enthusiasm in seeing our participants catch their first trout, largest trout, or the Mountaintown Slam (rainbow, brown, and brook trout…all in the same day!).
All participants caught trophy trout, learned new fly fishing tactics, enjoyed delicious food, took some time to relax, and discovered new friends.
The Atlanta Program would like to thank Robert Billue, Scott Lindstrom, and the rest of the Mountaintown Trout team of guides for an unforgettable day of fly fishing. The hospitality, kindness, and generosity experienced by our veteran participants exceeded all expectations. A special thank you also goes out to Meghan Lindstrom for capturing the event in photographs!
Here are some comments provided from several of the Atlanta Program participants:
“Overall, I enjoyed the event’s atmosphere, not just the fishing, a well-managed stream with beautiful trophy-sized trout. The event’s tone from the get-go was overwhelmingly positive and full of healing. As soon as I pulled up, I was greeted with a smile and handshake from Steve. Then a friendly razing from the fellow vets to hurry up and get dressed so we can hit the water as soon as possible. As the day progressed, you could visibly see the positivity growing as the vets, guides, and volunteers bonded. The common bond of fly fishing brought us all there, and that same bond brought us all together.” Alex Ward, Participant
“’When you cross paths with another, dare to make them smile.’ ― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free. The most memorable moment to me was seeing the effect of fly fishing on a fellow vet. It was his first-time fly fishing, and he was very enthusiastic about starting. When I caught up with him over lunch, he said he was having a fantastic time and eager to get back on the water. After the afternoon session was over, I met back up with him, and the look on his face was pure joy as he told me his total of 8 fish. The smile on his face looked permanently etched, grinning from ear to ear.” Alex Ward, Participant
“I wanted to share gratitude and thank you for everyone involved, from the planning to the breakdown of the event. It was no small task to make something this memorable happen, and cannot be said enough; again, thank you. A special thanks to Mark and Davis for dealing with me all day and putting me on fish all day long. Whether we netted them or not, it was terrific.” Alex Ward, Participant
“Pulling into the parking lot beside willie and Alex pulling into my right was a great start for any day. Getting out of the car and there is bud and gene and chip is in the distance making sure all is going smoothly. My brother Johnny rolls up bigger than life and jumps out happy to see me. Gary strolls over, hey man what’s up, good to see you! That is the start of a great day. I could go on about the great guides, trophy fish, and fabulous food but it all boils down to all these great people that make any trip anywhere an awesome experience.” Harold Ray, Participant
I had an amazing time and keep smiling every time I look at those photos. Still can’t believe that I caught that many! I loved the interaction I had with my guides and all the new skills that I learned. Euro Nymphing (or however you spell it) is a game changer for me when fishing. Thank you, Harvey and Nolan, for opening my eyes to this awesome new way to fish, as well as the knowledge to properly release trout back into their environment. Just being around vets, military supporters, engagement outside, good food, and lots of laughter is something I wish we could do this every week. The one thing that keeps running through my head since the trip was the actual size of the trout that reside there. Honestly, I thought everyone was lying to me considering that I have gone trout fishing plenty in my life, but you didn’t disappoint. Plus, one thing I think I will laugh about for a while is John’s toboggan he was wearing the whole day lol. It was just an overall amazing trip from catching fish, watching the dogs hunt for field mice, and the love that was being spread around. I truly can’t express how grateful I am to PHWFF and for MountainTown Trout giving me an experience I will never forget. Thank you! Jake Ciconne, Participant
“Robert and Mark were both very professional and supportive throughout the outing. Mark shared some important history about the property which, I am a curious learner of Native People history. So, happens, I instruct a class to combat veterans where I share some of the Warrior history of Georgia. Mark’s wife is an Army Veteran that has over 15 months of combat service. Robert kept a close eye on my stability while in the river as well as when I was entering and exiting the river beds. I felt safe, honored, and cared for throughout the outing.” Donald Cyprain, Participant
“Then, there’s the Project Healing Waters Fly-Fishing Atlanta Chapter Team, whom are the very best. Bud, Chip, Chris, and Gene just to name a few, made me feel seen, heard, and valued. Being seen, heard and valued are three basic but, most important human needs. Human needs that life has taught me to acknowledge those that see you for who you are, listen to you in your time of need, and value you just for being you. I left this outing with a greater appreciation of life and with deeper relationships with all that I interacted with. On the three-hour drive home, my body battery was reading about 15 percent however, Willie and I happiness meters were reading 100 percent. Willie kept saying on the drive home, “It was a good day!” I truly agree with that statement.” Donald Cyprain, Participant
“In closing, I notice that I am at peace when in nature. Fly-fishing is one of those outdoor sports that keep me in the present moment. As Soren Kierkegaard said, “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.” I have either live too much of my life being anxious of the future or depressed thinking about the past. Of which I have no control. So, today I am very grateful for the Project Healing Waters Fly-Fishing Team accepting me into their family.” Donald Cyprain, Participant
“I thoroughly enjoyed my fishing experience and would be the first to sign up for a return trip. My most memorable experience was fighting a Brown trout while sitting in the golf cart and landing that fish all from the golf cart.” Don Lowe, Participant“The host and guides today were outstanding. They were very friendly and wanted everyone to catch fish. They worked hard to ensure we had a great time. Loved it.”Chris Alford– Participant