Martinez Program Fishes the Wind

On September 18th, six veterans from the Martinez CA Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) group, and a volunteer trip leader, went on a 5-day fly fishing trip to the Wind River in Wyoming.

We took a flight from Oakland to Salt Lake City then rented two SUVs to travel to Dubois, Wyoming, where we stayed on the Wind River.  Dubois is east of both Grand Teton National Park and the town of Jackson, Wyoming – a 75-minute drive on highway 26/287.  In addition to three days of fishing, we enjoyed visiting Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park.

 

The Wind River is 185 miles long and officially becomes the Bighorn River on the north side of Wind River Canyon.  The river is surrounded by the Wind River, Absaroka and Owl Creek mountain ranges and is a wonderful source of cutthroat, rainbow, brook and brown trout as well as whitefish.  We stayed at the Flying W rental house.  This is a recently renovated 4-bedroom, 3 bath house on the banks of the river.  The house was perfect!  It sleeps 8 -10, has a nice deck facing the river, and made a good base camp for both fishing and park touring.  The house has a remodeled kitchen with an open living room/dining room/kitchen layout, and a large separate family/game room.  The owners, for the third year, generously donated the house for five days of PHWFF use.

The PHWFF group included Army, Marine, Navy and Air Force veterans.  A PHWFF volunteer served as trip leader.  The group received help from local fishing guides from Dunoir Fishing Adventures.

Rusty Komrs (Guide), Albert Lamele, Nick Beyer, Felix Oseguera, Al Peterson (trip leader), Bill Hopkins, Jose Arana, Brian Pastor, Jeramie Pine (guide).

Our fishing involved wading and multiple fly fishing techniques.  On the Wiggins Fork, where we fished the first two days, we used 5 or 6 weight fly rods and 4X or 5X leaders along with a hopper or foam stimulator and a dropper.  Nymph patterns varied but Copper Johns and Prince Nymphs were suggested by guides.  Four of the veterans were assisted by two guides these two days.  The guides took the veterans to productive places, helped them rig up, provided flies and equipment as needed, coached them, and provided lunch and water.  The other two veterans and trip leader, who are more experienced, fished nearby without guides.  Both groups caught several cutthroat and whitefish.

The third day we fished the main Wind River south of Dubois off highway 26 and in town.  We stayed with 5-weight and 6-weight fly rods but all went to 3X leaders to help with casting because of stronger winds.  They fished hoppers and droppers and also did some indicator nymphing. The “town group” went to a paved path-accessible public area and fished with hoppers and droppers as well as high stick nymphing.  Both groups caught several cutthroat, rainbows and some very nice brown trout.  Every day we saw beautiful scenery and few if any other people.

Nick Beyer caught this 16-inch brown trout with guide Noah of Dunoir Fishing Adventures.

 

Bill Hopkins caught this huge brown trout – one of the largest caught this year on the Wind River!

Our veterans use and enjoy fly rods they’ve built, flies they’ve tied, fly casting and other fishing skills they’ve learned, and team with other veterans they’ve met.  The veterans commented that they felt ready based on the weekly PHWFF fly fishing program.  One first-trip veteran was told by the head guide that he looked like he had been fly fishing for a couple of years.

PHWFF knows that disabled military veterans make real healing progress through this fly fishing program.  These benefits are due to the hobby, science, sport, outdoor environment and camaraderie of fly fishing.   As one veteran commented after the trip: “We were telling stories from the trip and laughing and smiling….We have developed bonds and trust and brotherhood that cannot be taken away….I hope that in the future I can take my blessings from Project Healing Waters and give back to someone who could benefit as much as I have!”