Helping Veterans Catch Fish

Pictured are Judy (veteran) and Randy Smith (SLFFC member). Not only was it Judy’s first time to cast a fly rod, it was also her first time to land a bass.

Lorin Hicks, SLFFC Member

Saturday, Oct. 15, started out as a tough day to fish. Angry clouds threatened a downpour, and the wind began to blow. Members of the Sun Lakes Fly Fishing Club (SLFFC), undaunted by the weather, assembled within the Sun Lakes Country Club to welcome disabled vets for a fishing expedition on our neighborhood lakes. The event was co-sponsored by Project Healing Waters (PHW), a national program that introduces disabled veterans to the therapeutic value of fly fishing. Thanks to Kelly Haynes, Sun Lakes Country Club’s general manager, we were able to fish on three of their lakes.

Four fearless fly fishers, two PHW staff, and five SLFFC members headed into the water with the intent to learn the basics of fly fishing and to catch some of the feisty fish that inhabit our neighborhood lakes. With an eye to the gathering clouds, participants were successful in catching fish and escaping the threatening weather. Vets new to the sport learned the fine art of fly-casting to curious bass and carp that rose to flies laid on the water.

“No better way to spend a Saturday morning,” remarked SLFFC President George Abernathy, as he watched vets fly casting to fish roaming the surface of crystal-clear Sun Lakes waters. Under the guidance of SLFFC members and PHW staff, veterans caught and released largemouth bass and carp during the morning session.

With perfect timing, the group ended their fishing expedition just before the skies poured rain. The group was treated to an excellent lunch by IronOaks’ management team at the Stone & Barrel restaurant.

The Sun Lakes Fly Fishing Club welcomes residents experienced or interested in fly fishing to attend morning breakfasts or scheduled workshops. Please contact George Abernathy at [email protected] or visit for additional information.

“The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.” ~John Buchan, unverified