Fly Fishing Arizona

Erich Tiepel holding an Arizona Bow Hog

Erich Tiepel holding an Arizona Bow Hog

George Abernathy

In less than two years, the Sun Lakes Fly Fishing Club’s membership has grown from an idea to 64 members. Knowing the backgrounds of some of the members, I’m always impressed by how they willingly leave their egos at the door which is a real rarity within any club. Fly fishermen are absolutely the finest people to spend time with, especially when you’re on the hunt for trout.

Within the first year, my two initial goals for the club were tremendously exceeded. First of all, many of them have become my fishing buddies, something I sought after for months prior to no avail. Most club members initially had no idea that Arizona offers a variety of excellent fisheries. They do now. Secondly, I enjoy observing members that have also developed friendships with other members that enjoy fly fishing.

Countless Sun Lakes residents like myself served one or more tours in Vietnam. As we all know, returning Vietnam veterans weren’t exactly welcomed home with ticket parades and were pretty much shunned by the general population. Thanks to Art Sloane and Van Newville, a club member, my third goal became a reality when our club started hosting disabled veterans from Project Healing Waters. With the support from the management teams of both IronOaks and Cottonwood Palo Verde, club members enthusiastically assist the veterans several times per year with fly fishing within our communities. On his first hosting of the veterans, Stan Kaufman, a SLFFC member, was so overwhelmed with working with the veterans, he organized a recent fund raiser “Hooked On Healing Ride” which was primarily sponsored by San Tan Crown Rotary Club.

Many residents have a variety of fly fishing or other fishing gear stored in their garages that are gathering dust, taking up space and wouldn’t mind donating it or selling it for a nominal price. Thus is the beginning of my fourth goal; I would like to obtain that gear and recondition it if necessary. Some of the gear will be sold to club members and the proceeds will go directly to Project Healing Waters. Also, a percentage of the proceeds will be spent directly on the veterans when our club hosts them. If you are interested in donating items, please contact me directly.

Starting in the Splash’s June issue, I will start publishing information on how residents who previously enjoyed fly fishing in the past but no longer do so because they feel they are too old or perhaps physical disabilities are preventing them. I have worked with disabled veterans for over a year and trust me, there are ways that they can still get out comfortably and wet their lines. My forthcoming articles will enable some faces to gleam again when they hook another trout.

Our next and last meeting until this fall is on Tuesday, April 5 at 6:30 p.m. at Oakwood’s main ballroom.

For more information contact George Abernathy at 480-521-1060; [email protected]

Fish On! Fish On!