“Climb To Glory,” the motto of the U.S. Army’s famed 10th Mountain Division, seemed a fitting motto for the accomplishments of two of the Division’s veterans while on an outing with the San Francisco Program of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing. Disabled veteran participants from the PHWFF-San Francisco Program, Rob Nugent and Kris Babbes, who both served in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, polished their angling skills under the tutelage of Wild Waters Fly Fishing co-founders and guides John Rickard and Chuck Volckhausen. The results—four gigantic brown trout totaling 96 inches in cumulative length—were lured from the depths of the legendary McCloud River in northern California on streamers, black rubber legs and stonefly nymphs.
For the second consecutive year, The Nature Conservancy’s remote McCloud River Preserve provided the perfect fishing locale for PHWFF-SF vets. U. S. Navy veteran participants Steve DeVaughn and Bill Avants, along with three PHWFF-SF volunteers, accompanied Rob and Kris in late July. All of the vets caught feisty McCloud River rainbow trout, descendants of the Earth’s most celebrated trout, the McCloud River Rainbow, which was first introduced into numerous southern hemisphere countries, including Chile, Argentina, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, well over 100 years ago. In addition to spending evenings cooking dinner in the outdoor kitchen area and telling fish tales around the campfire, the vets also enjoyed the comforts of the Preserve’s spacious guest cabin and its solar heated outdoor shower.