Article by David Lipscomb, Program Lead of the Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Martinez, CA Program. Stay connected with our Martinez, California program by following their Page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PHWFFMartinez/
Six Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing veterans from California and Oregon were treated to fishing Oregon’s Crooked River, the Upper Deschutes River and East Lake during the second week of June thanks to graciousness of the Sunriver Anglers, a half dozen guides and three volunteers. Veteran participants Luke Bachan, Nick Beyer, and Kevon Franklin from PHWFF-Martinez, CA were joined by veterans Wade Ruch, Asa Stamps, and Reid Walch from the PHWFF-Bend, OR program. These veterans were joined by two volunteers, Brian Miller and David Lipscomb from the Diablo Valley Fly Fishermen based in Walnut Creek, Calif., along with Sunriver Angler club member Phil Fischer, a former DVFF member for 15-plus years.
While fly fisherman are known for a predilection toward slight exaggeration, these veterans caught a lot of fish on these waters, starting with many rainbows and whitefish on the Crooked River, followed by big brook trout on the Upper Deschutes, with many rainbows and brown trout coming to the net on East Lake. No exaggeration – we have photographic evidence! As an avid photographer, Phil followed our crew for three days; documenting time spent having fun and healing on the water. Also a master fly tier, Phil donated to each veteran a fly box containing key patterns for each fishing venue.
This trip offered three perfect days of healing in the high desert. The stark beauty of the Crooked River against vibrant green high canyon walls was amazing. The scenery of the Upper Deschutes, and the wildlife around it, was like a picture postcard. East Lake lived up to its reputation as a fly-fishing destination. This was Kevon’s first PHWFF trip and on his first cast caught his first trout on the Crooked River!
Each day the veterans were served a hot lunch. Jeff Nakae and Jerry Hubbard of the Sunriver Anglers cooked up a spectacular hot chili on the Crooked River. On Wednesday, the PHWFF program out of Bend, Ore., led by volunteer Brad Emory, treated the group to bratwurst, potato salad, and all the fixings at Mile Camp. This awesome meal was very welcome after a morning spent hiking the Upper Deuchutes River and hooking and fighting many fish. On Thursday, the group joined Sunriver Anglers for the club’s annual East Lake outing. Mike and Rynie Quan served hamburgers, salads and Rynie’s famous desserts.
Each evening after dinner, a roundtable fishing report commenced, with a lot of comments relating the great time veterans enjoyed with their guides, along with the telling of a few minor exaggerations as to the size and numbers of fish caught.
The veterans were housed in homes in Sunriver donated by Patty and Ralph Enger and Martie Helmreich. The volunteers from California stayed with Sunriver Anglers club members Phil and Nancy Fischer.
The Veterans were guided during their visit by guides John Olschewsky (The Hook Fly Shop), Mary Ann Dozer (Fly Fishing Pursuits), Bob Smith and Justin Church (Fly and Field Outfitters), and Jeff Perin and Steve Erickson (The Fly Fishers Place). We thank these people for generously donating their time and expertise in helping our veterans on the water. No question, their expertise helped the veterans improve their casting, presentation, and their overall experience. The veterans all commended the guides for helping them learn more about fly fishing. It was refreshing to see this beautiful country through the eyes of our veteran participants, knowing that this positive experience is now permanently etched in their memories.