A Return To Healing

Story by Brian Miller

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) reopened for group overnight outings on October 1, 2021.  While ‘waiting to heal’ may have taken some toll, the PHWFF Martinez, CA program wasted no time getting disabled U.S, military veterans back on the water.  This began on October 11 with a 5-day outing to Fall River, California hosted by Circle 7 Ranch.

Veteran participants were Bill Hopkins, Sheronda Myers, Brian Pastor, Cynthia Pouncey, Forrest Towe, and Lorina Walker.  PHWFF volunteers from DVFF were Alan Christian, Wayne & Caron Hofer, Jan Horn, and Brian Miller.  Circle 7 donated their lodging in their historic White House and neighboring Tan House on the banks of Fall River.

We experimented going ‘guideless’ by pairing experienced Fall River volunteers with veteran participants in boats, also donated by Circle 7, for three days of fly fishing on this highly technical, but stunning spring creek.  Overall, the fishing was tough with lots of breakoffs due to the size of fish bearing down on the light tackle and small flies required on this river.  That said, we did get a respectable few to the boat over three days. 

Forrest Towe won largest fish honors with a beautiful 19-inch rainbow caught on an amber Monroe leech while fishing with Alan Christian.  Lorina Walker teamed up with Brian Miller to land a fat 18-incher swinging a small olive leech.  Bill Hopkins had some success using plain PTs, olive baetis nymphs, and his own peaches and cream pattern. Jan Horn’s teams favored Norman’s wiggle tails and small olive leeches.  And zug bugs worked well for smaller fish on the famed “Zug Bug Alley”.

On the third day, while the others fished Sheronda, Cynthia, and Lorina opted for a tour of Fall River Valley with Brian Miller.  We visited the local waters of Spring Creek, Eastman Lake, Hat Creek, and Baum Lake.  And our sincere thanks to the McArthur family who warmly hosted us for a tour of their incredible ranch. 

Our early mornings and evenings were spent enjoying the incredible breakfast and dinner cuisine cooked up beautifully by Caron Hofer. As a special treat we celebrated the birthdays of Jan and Wayne, who were born on the same day, same year!  The group cannot thank Caron enough for her hard work planning and preparing our amazing meals.  And many thanks to the DVFF volunteers for their leadership, guidance, and patience … well done!

“I was able to enjoy this beautiful Fall River because people cared.  Many people put time, effort, and resources because they care about their fellow human beings.  I am grateful to have had the privilege to meet such wonderful, quality veterans and volunteers that shared their life with me,” PHWFF veteran.

Story by Brian Miller

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