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Fall River Women’s Outing, October 17-21, 2022

By: Lorina Walker

The first morning of the annual PHWFF Fall River trip came early and the air was quite chilly.  The fall season was well underway casting reflections of all its colorful splendor on the mirrored water.  At 0600 the coffee pot gurgles to life, filling the air with the aroma of hot coffee to herald each morning as Caron begins to move about the kitchen.  Being no stranger to volunteering with Project Healing Waters, she had prepared a week’s worth of lovely breakfasts, lunch makings, and desserts for the first ever PHWFF Martinez women’s outing. 

Veterans Sheronda Meyers, Cynthia Pouncey, and Lorina Walker were given the opportunity to spend the week being coached by PHWFF volunteers from the Diablo Valley Fly Fishing (DVFF) club.  Led by Jan Horn, volunteers included Tom Seidman, Wayne, and Caron Hofer.  And legendary Fall River guide George Durand graciously donated a day of guiding.  Each dinner was catered by the Big Valley Market and enjoyed at the large dining table of the White House at the serene Circle 7 Ranch.  After each evening meal, a brief camaraderie was shared, whether it was gathering around a screen to enjoy the dry fly presentation from the DVFF Zoom meeting or receiving a small class on entomology led by Tom. 

Lorina Walker | Wayne Hofer | Jan Horn | Cynthia Pouncey | Tom Seidman | Carol Hofer | Sheronda Myers

Veterans were able to choose their volunteers each of the three days, so that each volunteer would have something unique to offer the veteran in the way of technique, fundamentals, and general knowledge of the river and its surrounding area.  The total fish counts for the vets were as follows:  

Sheronda reported: “My biggest fish was 48 inches. That’s my story I’m sticking to it!”  Her count was 7.  

Lorina reported 9, none caught were bigger than 7 inches.  What was notable was that most were caught on a dry fly, one on a Griffith’s gnat on the retrieve. 

Cynthia reported: “I caught four itty-bitty ones. Two weren’t worth a pic.  The other two were about 5 inches. All the big ones are too smart!”

Our trip leader Jan landed many, with her biggest fish measuring out at 19 ½ inches.

The fishing on Fall River is tough to predict even for the river’s longest fishers.  The big fish “didn’t get big by being dumb” as Sheronda so accurately put it.  The leech that works one day may be replaced by the perfect size and shade of dry fly the next and nothing else will do for these cheeky trout.  Regardless, the veterans were able to land fish, and though the weather was cold in the morning it ended warm and nearly windless.

When the final morning came, coffee and clean ups were again conducted.  Hugs and “see you laters” were exchanged as the group headed home.  The veterans had all decided to follow each other to nearby Lassen Volcanic National Park for a little trout spotting and a bit more bonding in further testament that Project Healing Waters begins with fishing and continues on in new friendships forged, both great and small. 

Excerpts from the PHWFF Martinez Mountain Book:

“What to say?  Fall River … the beauty, the people, the cool old white house, the FISH!  An amazing experience for sure!  I love the history here and I have learned so much more in these last three days. I continue to be so very thankful for this organization and this club!  It is such a blessing!”

“This was a much needed trip!  I caught fish, I learned a lot about fly lines, and I got a rod!  When everything tried to keep me off the water, it truly was the water that kept me from breaking!”

“What a great group!  I really enjoyed spending quality time on the water and our discussions at the table.  Keep learning and studying, it’s worth every minute!”

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