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For each of the last three years, approximately 100 disabled veterans and volunteers have gathered at the Thornwood 4-H Camp in Pocahontas County to learn about fly fishing. This year, from June 1-3, 2018, they will gather for the fourth annual event. Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. (PHWFF) puts on this event annually for the West Virginia region, and pulls participants and volunteers from 12 programs in West Virginia and surrounding states.

PHWFF is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and disabled veterans through fly fishing and associated activities including education and outings. PHWFF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Bubba Holt, WV Regional Coordinator, started this event in 2014 as Program Lead for PHWFF-Parkersburg, along with Nathan Leasure, Assistant Program Lead for PHWFF-Parkersburg. “I felt this area needed a large event where we could pull together all of the participants and volunteers and really, truly learn about fly fishing,” said Holt. “Thornwood 4-H Camp is so close to some of the greatest trout streams in the country. It allows the participants to take in the beauty of our state, and put to action things they have learned.”

The event includes several different classes, including casting with previous casting champion and owner/operator of Old Rag Outfitters, Jack Bell.  There will be fly tying instruction with Ellis King and his crew from River Tactical Flies. Other activities will include reading water, basic entomology, and the regional PHWFF casting championship. The volunteers are all fly fishermen who have spent years honing their craft. The volunteers partner with the participants, all disabled veterans, and take them out on fishing excursions in the local area so they can get out on the water.

This event is dependent on donations and volunteers to make it successful. For the 2018 event, PHWFF received several private, individual contributions, as well as donations from these fine sponsors: $1,500 from the West Virginia Council of Trout Unlimited, a partner with PHWFF, $500 from Cheat Mountain Trader, $500 from New Life in Christ Fellowship, and $2,500 from the Greenbrier River Fly Fishing Classic, Inc.

Blue Roof Caterers out of Monterey, VA, provides the food for the event. They also operate the Last Run restaurant in Cass, WV at the state park. River Tactical Flies donates a lot of the flies and materials for the event, and all participants go home with something where they continue their love of fly fishing.

If you would like to help with this event either by donating funds or volunteering, please contact Bubba Holt, WV Regional Coordinator for PHWFF, by calling (304) 299-9617 or by email at

Photo : Nathan Leasure