Author: fishtale

Food, family, and fly fishing fun.

Saturday was an award winning day for our amazing veterans.

Fourteen first time fly fishers, enjoyed a hot breakfast, fly tying, casting lessons, and fishing from a private lake.

Veterans . . . male and female . . . . from every decade from 1950 till the present . . . . . were on hand. Every branch of military service was represented this past week.

Thank you TEAM for giving your all, so our military veterans can be more successful at LIFE.

Fast & Furious Recap of an amazing weekend. Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing was represented at each one of these five events.

Friday Fish – Friday morning

Project Stand Up for Veterans – Friday night

Real Ale Brewing Co. – Fly Fishing Seminar – Saturday morning

Veterans Day Campout & BBQ – Saturday night

Dedication of the Nelson Hut – Sunday afternoon

At each of these locations we were able to promote PHWFF and recruit new team members.

The Nelson Hut was the dream of Bob Nelson, Navy veteran and PHWFF coach. This meeting place and storage facility will allow us to tie flies and build fly rods, store and maintain our equipment.

Friday Fish is an open invitation to our disabled veterans, every week of the year.

We meet at Tips Turf Grass Farm, 12205 Hwy 80E, 4 miles east of Martindale, next to the river. A private lake, and a mile of river access allow our heroes to fly fish to their heart’s delight.

Hot coffee and fresh breakfast tacos welcome our faithful fly fishers at 0700, and we fish till 1100 hrs.

Fly tying vises are always available, and they come in handy for those few days when the weather does not cooperate for fishing.

This past Friday, Gordon and Erik scored big time on some oversized fish! Way to go!

I closed out the day on the river on my Diablo kayak. The setting sun lighted my way back to the Jeep.

It takes more than MUD and MONSOON RAINS to dampen the enthusiasm of our Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, San Marcos, Texas team.

Four days of steady rain have pumped up our Central Texas Hill Country rivers, and turned ranch roads into muddy trenches.

Chris George welcomed Blake O Holbrook, James Lambert, TK Phelps, David Beadle, Dr. Carl VanAacken, Juan Garcia, and myself to his soaked and soggy Tips Turf Grass Farm. These veterans are also engaged in a mentoring project with the local, Team of Champions, six-man football team, coached by Chris. (More in a separate post)

The San Marcos River was still fishable and John Shank, owner and highly skilled guide at Lone Star Fly Fishing LLC, located some big ones for Air Force veteran, Erik Larsen.

Medical disabilities don’t keep Erik from being a valuable member of our Team Project Healing Waters San Antonio & San Marcos. He has caught some real trophies lately, but his Guadalupe Bass on this trip is PRICELESS.

Max Petri braved the rain and wind, along with his coaches Scott Henize and Gordon Holt. Don Hudgins III was with us, always ready to provide his expert skills to help with our veterans.

We also welcomed Taryn Davis, Founder and Executive Director of the American Widow Project. She serves women who have survived their military spouses. Our hope is that we can provide a quality outdoors experience for these women, during a future retreat.

Taryn tied her first fly fishing Wolly Bugger and Floating Spider, under the expert guidance of Gordon Holt.

Friday was a huge success, thanks to the efforts of our amazing team of participants, coaches, supporters, and donors.

Healing is maximized . . . . . and disabilities are minimized . . . . . when veterans gather at the river, with a fly rod in hand.

This past weekend, several of our Team Project Healing Waters San Antonio & San Marcos vets and coaches participated in a kayak paddle & fly fishing trip on the Guadalupe River.

We camped at Guadalupe River State Park, and fly fished for bass, catfish, sunfish, and cichlids.

Our Diablo kayaks performed well despite the demanding, low water conditions.

Our courageous military veterans overcome their disabilities, and heal from their wounds, at our beautiful wilderness river retreat.

Thank you Chris George, Stacy Lauhon George, and Tips Turf Grass Farm for your gracious hospitality. WE ARE BLESSED BY YOU!

Yesterday our veterans even braved the approaching hurricane Harvey for a morning of camaraderie, coffee, and a special treat of egg, bacon, and bean breakfast tacos.

Cloud bands from the approaching storm can be seen in some of these photos. Check out Staples, Texas, and you can see our location just down river.

Thomas Wyatt joined us for the first time, and we welcomed him to our Team Project Healing Waters San Antonio and San Marcos Program. He has some serious fly fishing skills already!

Dalton Padgett returned to our Friday Fish event, and he is certainly accustomed to casting a fly rod. Welcome again Dalton.

Ahmed Al-Qaysi is becoming a regular to our weekly fly fishing. His story is amazing! More later.

Mike Duecy, brought his son and father along as that amazing family wraps up a fun summer adventure. Back to school soon.

Ever faithful Erik, Scott, and Chango were with us to share their expertise and pitch in on the chores.

They moved all the fly fishing equipment and supplies up to the second floor of the cabin, which sets just a few feet from the San Marcos River. With up to 20 inches of rain forecast with this hurricane, the river will soon be out of its banks.

You can see the peaceful river scene in a couple of these photos. That is about to change.

Hot or Not . . . . we always gather on Friday morning for Team Project Healing Waters.


The “Dog Days” of August may not be the best times for fishing, but when vets get together in the great outdoors, good things always happen.


Yesterday we had two first timers, Dave Mosher and Dalton Padgett. They both fit right in with our Team, and friendships were given a kick-start with hot coffee, breakfast tacos, and fish stories.


It was great to see three generations of the Mike Duecy family represented.


After the official meeting ended, I paddled with Dave on his first ever fly fishing adventure on the San Marcos River.

Saturday Fish was a huge success.

Fourteen veterans, eight coaches from Central Texas Fly Fishers (, two helpers (Chango & Nathan), Lisa from Texas State University, and a professional fly fishing guide (John Shank) all converged at our home waters for a fabulous day of food, fun, fishing, fly tying, and camaraderie.

Thank you Milt for getting us started with a hearty breakfast of pancakes and sausage.

Many of our veterans were first time fly fishers, and one had never fished at all.

After some expert casting lessons, each coach grabbed one or two vets and fished the lake or the river.

Patrick Brown and Branden Doiron earned their spot on a raft for a five hour fishing float on the San Marcos River. They had a blast!

Sunfish, bass, and even a gar bit the fly and added to a fun day on the water.

Thank you Team Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing.

Friday Fish is our Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing weekly outreach to the disabled veterans in the San Marcos, Texas area.

We started the morning with Gordon Holt giving fly tying lessons to Blake O Holbrook. As usual, Chongo was on hand to help out with our vets.

The clear, cool water of the San Marcos River provides us with a beautiful place to practice our fly fishing skills.

This week, Mike Duecy, Don Hudgins III, and Erik Larsen floated and fished one section of the river, while I paddled my Diablo Chupacabra kayak and fished downriver from them.

With a popper/dropper on the 3 weight rod, and a streamer on my 4 weight, the hunt was on for sunfish, bass, cichlids, and catfish.

Triple digit temperatures are common in Texas. Fortunately there is plenty of shade, and an occasional dip in the river is a welcomed reprieve from the heat.

Part II – The Upstream Float

Coach Don Hudgins guided one of our veterans, Erik, on a productive morning of fishing. We were greeted by many bird species as well as a few reptiles, some good and some nasty. Be careful when retrieving your fly from the vegetation around the river. All together it was a very relaxing trip through the countryside that presented us with all that nature has to offer.

The morning began slightly overcast so we began by throwing poppers. A few sunfish and bass showed interest, but they shut down after the sun broke through the clouds. We then focused on sub-surface streamers and were able to bring a few more bass up from the depths for a photo op. We couldn’t establish one color or style of streamer that was more productive today. We threw every color of the rainbow and had fish show interest in most of them. Most of the bites came as soon as the fly hit the water, near the top, as opposed to coming from the depths. We didn’t have tremendous numbers of fish, but we certainly had a good time.

I want to give a very special THANK YOU to our volunteer coach, Don Hudgins, for guiding our vets on these very special trips. Don worked the entire float today to maneuver the boat and put Erik in position to make casts. He gave casting tips, made recommendations on where to cast, how to retrieve and even tied on new flies to help Erik have the most productive time on the water. He didn’t even make a cast for himself. Don is a true servant to our veterans and we are very lucky to have him on our team.

Beavers and snakes were among the various “River Critters” that accompanied us on recent fly fishing trips.

Also of interest was a mother Yellow-crowned Night-Heron teaching her youngster how to catch fish, a Green Heron, and a female Grackle picking up frogs and grasshoppers on the river bank.

Hawks and Ospreys were fishing alongside of us, sometimes swooping down between our kayaks.

Kingfishers were chattering their complaints, unhappy that we were on “their” river.

Many fish were on their breeding beds, overseeing their little ones, and protecting them from predators. It was humorous to see a six inch sunfish successfully attack, and run off, an intruder many times their size.

Observing these animals, in their natural habitat, satisfies something deep in the soul.

The outdoors is truly a “healing place” for many of us.