Veterans, captains, guides, and volunteers had a great time on the waters in Palmetto, Florida. There were 10 boats with their captain, a veteran and volunteer who went fishing in the surrounding waters. Twenty-one disabled veterans participated. We assembled around 8:00 AM at the Bradenton Yacht Club and headed out to fly fish the surrounding waters. This event has been held since 2012 at the Bradenton Yacht Club and has been supported by the Anna Maria Oyster Bar and the Crosthwait Memorial Tournament.

“PHWFF is a national non-profit (501c3) program that teaches veterans fly fishing, fly casting, fly tying, and fly rod building.  It is helping heal the physical and emotional wounds of our veterans.  Fly fishers all over the country organize fly fishing activities in conjunction with the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers and Clinics.  This program is promoted by the International Federation of Fly Fishers and its charter and affiliated clubs.  Members of Mangrove Coast Fly Fishers, Mid Coast Fly Fishers, Suncoast Fly Fishers, and Tampa Bay Fly Fishing Club donated their boats and guides to make this event very successful and honor our veterans.  This year’s event was coordinated by Mike Reeves along with Ted Haas and former Regional Coordinator Lawrence Lurie.  This event gets the veterans out on the water to catch fish with a fly rod.  Many of the vets have spent time at VA facilities tying flies and learning how to fly cast.  Several programs also include fly rod building programs.  The veteran can build his/her own rod, tie their own flies and then get out on the water to use the fly fishing equipment that they made.  All services are provided at no cost to our veterans.

So how did our day go?  We started with coffee, juice and sweets. The sun was out with a mild breeze.  Most of us picked a sheltered area to fly fish while others headed out to the Skyway Bridge and braved the stronger winds.  A few boats had great luck catching spotted sea trout, snook, and some snappers.  We ended with lunch and recognition of those who caught fish and prizes for the veterans who attended this event.

This event would not have been possible without the support of the Bradenton Yacht Club, its generous membership, and the great contributions of the captains and volunteers.  We wish to thank all those involved in this event and to the many veterans who served to preserve the freedoms of our country.  To them we owe our greatest THANKS!”

Tom Gadacz
Board Member, Suncoast Fly Fishers  & 
President, Florida Council of the International Federation of Fly Fishers

Special thanks to the Bradenton Yacht Club

This article originally appeared on Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing.