BLM Colorado

BLM Colorado

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Fly Fishing Therapy for Veterans


Retired Air Force Airman 1st Class Sonny Binder is enjoying his life thanks in part to the efforts of BLM Fish Biologist Jeff McEnroe and the volunteers of Project Healing Waters. Binder is one of a dozen veterans who are learning, as many veterans have before him, that a fly rod has the power to repair the soul of a wounded warrior.
Project Healing Waters Umpqua Program volunteers and participants. From left to right: Dale Greenley, Jason Brandt, Greg Huchko, Brian Tumlinson, Fred Wilkins, Josh Voynick, Jeff McEnroe (BLM Fish Biologist) and his son Fisher, Sonny Binder, Frank Moore, Karl Tanner, Jeremy Henderson, Jon Schlais, Jay Carlson (retired BLM District Manager), Scott Ligthcap (BLM OR/WA Fish Lead), Bryan Deck, and Ben Moore.

Some time ago, Jeff McEnroe's wife challenged him to help to educate Veterans. Abby McEnroe, a nurse at the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center, knew the positive influence of various forms of therapy on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, one of which is Project Healing Waters. This program recruits fly fishing enthusiasts to teach disabled veterans the art of tying flies, casting, and of course, catching fish.

Looking for additional support, McEnroe enlisted fly fishing legend Frank Moore, who was inducted into the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame in 2010, and other fishing enthusiasts to work with Project Healing Waters to create an education course targeting veterans. With one of the world's best fly fishing rivers at their disposal, it was not hard to attract participants. Standing in the deep green waters of the North Umpqua River, one veteran suggested that casting into the river was meditative, even a "Zen-like" experience.

Frank Moore, WWII Veteran and legendary fly fisherman, demonstrates proper fly rod casting techniques on the North Umpqua River to participants in the Project Healing Waters Umpqua Program.

Clockwise from top left: 1) Participants and volunteers of the Project Healing Waters Umpqua Program. 2) Frank Moore bonds with Iraq combat veteran Jeremy Henderson while practicing casting a fly rod. 3) Veterans are instructed on proper fly casting technique on the North Umpqua River.