Veterans and Fly Fishing

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Photo by Louis Cahill

Photo by Louis Cahill

By Bob Reece

Fly fishing is as powerful as you believe it to be.

Six years ago I was asked to go to a brief evening meeting regarding the creation of a veterans focused fly fishing group.   Since then I’ve been blessed to work on and off with this collaborative effort.  I have been blown away by the impact that this program has had on the lives of both the volunteers and veterans.

Duane Cook is a retired P.E. teacher and Vietnam veteran.    When he returned home from his service, he struggled to leave the conflict behind.  Growing up in the high country of Colorado, fly fishing was always a part of his life.  It was a return to the water that helped him regain a grasp on life and successfully move forward.

Several decades later he felt a need to give back.  In an attempt to begin that process, he set out to form a veterans fly fishing group in my home town of Cheyenne, Wyoming.   Since its creation it has exploded with growth.  On Saturdays throughout the winter, active and retired veterans learn how to tie flies and build fly rods.  As spring approaches casting classes are put on and summer trips are scheduled.

I’d seen the smiles and pictures but it was not until recently that I fully appreciated the impact of the program. 

This past year I put together a new promotional video for the group, Platte Rivers Veterans Fly Fishing.  As part of the audio, I recorded accounts of how the program had affected the participant’s lives.  Listening to their accounts and looking into their eyes gripped my heart.  I was first amazed at their experiences.  Then I began to question whether I was doing enough in my own life to give back through fly fishing.

If you view fly fishing only as a means of connecting a hook to the mouth of a fish, it will be that for you.  However, if you chose to also use it as a means to give back, it will change lives.   You may use it to reach veterans, kids, cancer patients or merely a friend in need.   It matters not the category that they fall into, only that they experience the happiness and healing that should flow from us as fly fishers.

To view tying video by Umpqua Signature Fly Designer Bob Reece, click on the link below:

To explore Bob’s Wyoming guide service, click on the link below:

To purchase Bob’s Umpqua Signature Flies, click on the link below:

Bob Reece
Gink & Gasoline
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3 thoughts on “Veterans and Fly Fishing

  1. Excellent article. For those of us in the rest of the country, you might mention Project Healing Waters. a national veterans outreach in conjunction with the VA.

  2. Appreciate the work of all those helping our vets. Who would have thought that a line and a fish can be more therapeutic than anything thrown at these guys.

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