Thursday, April 24, 2014

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc and the Walla² Fly Fishers' program

This evening we had our first Thursday evening session with the Vets at Walla Walla Veterans' Hospital and those Walla² Fly Fishers interested in helping area veterans work past their military service wounds via fly fishing.

A Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc video presentation.


Our Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing currently meets at:
Walla Walla Veteran Center
1104 West Popular Street


509-386-6813 (Kim)
Our group meets most Thursdays at 5:00 pm
at the Walla Walla Vet Center

Our Walla Walla area chapter was organized~started by our fellow club member and diligent worker - Gerald "Jerry" Newell
  Gerald Berton Newell, 75
May 4, 1940 —  Feb. 1, 2016
Rest in Peace dear friend
It was last year that Jerry approached the club, asking if we would be interested in taking on an ongoing project helping vets of our area through the PROJECT HEALING WATERS - Fly Fishing program.
"Bringing wounded vets fly-fishing to heal their mind and soul."

You can learn more about PROJECT HEALING WATERS by following this link to the home of this national organization.

Dave Stemmer
 With the loss of our chapter's organizer -Jerry Newell- we had club member and retired Navy veteran Dave Stemmer to step forward and fill the shoes of Jerry, in the ongoing mission of our PROJECT HEALING WATERS chapter. Thank you Dave.

Our Walla Walla chapter is a part of the Northwest Region
Northwest - AK, ID, OR, WA - Chuck Tye, Regional Coordinator 

Along with our club coordinator Jerry, we have a local Walla Walla VA Hospital coordinator - Derek Reser - Recreation Director, and he may be reached at

To date our activities have been fly tying lesson at the VA Hospital, but the organization also funds and co-ordinates fly fishing excursions, for all those that participate in the Project. 

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, this writer shall share these pictures of a couple of our fly tying session. Our weekly Thursday sessions begin at 5:00 pm and last until 6:00 - 6:30pm, sometimes later if we are having too much fun ~ camaraderie to stop tying on schedule.

Jerry passing out tying materials

Now, how does all of this go together?

Herb, showing the finer points of tying this fly

Herb Clark is our #1 tying instructor - he is good, and know the waters / flies of the Walla² valley.

Updated - 28 August 2014 - as we move along on the quest to catch fish on the fly.

During the heat of summer we got a break in the weather and went outdoors to practice casting fly line and yarn flies.
One of our founding club members and Master Casting Instructor - Skip Pritchard often come to our aid, when we ask for his expertise.
Skip showing Dave some of the finer points of casting

Herb and Jerry getting in some casting practice / warming up - hitting the target ring with a yarn fly.

  Derek is really learning to get into the swing of casting
Good job Derek


Derek, is getting better at shooting the fly line, and hitting the ring target with his single haul casting.
In Walla Walla, we have a lot of room in our Project Healing Waters fly fishing glasses, and if you are a vet, would like to learn to catch a fish on the fly; please feel FREE to join us.
Our VA Hospital Contact is Derek Reser - Recreation Director, and he may be reached at

The club members which have helped with our PROJECT HEALING WATERS activities are: Jerry Newell, Herb Clark, Dave Stemmer, Skip Pritchard, Diane Biggs, and Dale McKain. This is an open group, FREE to all veterans, even though a Code of Conduct form must be signed, and any and all club members are invited to participate. Please coordinate your comings and goings with Jerry as you will be compensated for your time and mileage spent. 

Update - Time to go fishing - as we move along on the quest to catch fish on the fly.
The River Just Knows
In August Dave and Brandon went to work on the Walla Walla and Tucannon rivers. 
Brandon with a few bass
Caught Dave playing with trout

One of Brandon's bass
One of Dave's trout

In September the Project Healing Waters - Northwest Region sponsored a 2-Fly Fishing Tournament on the Yakima River.
This was a full weekend event starting with the gathering of veterans on Friday afternoon - fishing all day Saturday - having a farewell breakfast together on Sunday.
Richard staying busy

Derek at work
The River Just Knows
Drift boats, pontoon boats, fishing rafts, all joined the action for the day
Jerry reported to the club... there was 120 people in attendance for that function of which 66 were veterans. This function came together on Friday evening at an area KOA campground and lasted through Sunday morning breakfast. Jerry reported that he was very impressed with the organization of the tournament and the food was great. There were fishing crews for 23 boats with veterans fly fishing the river. Our Walla Walla group had two boats and 4 vets participating.

In October the Walla² Fly Fishers and Project Healing Waters veterans made a full day's run for the Deschutes River to test some steelhead flies tied earlier.
Brandon and Tom fishing at the Outhouse Hole

This day's hookup were few and far between, tis the nature of steelhead fishing. Erik reported catching two suckers and one nice native steelhead this day.
Erik with his Deschutes River catch
We must keep in mind when steelhead fishing, that the catch rate is measured in angling hours per fish, not fish per angling hours.

The November 2014 issue of Walla Walla Lifestyles did a feature article on our Walla Walla program for Project Healing Water Fly Fishing.
We hope you will have the opportunity to find a copy and read our story.

Coordinator Jerry tells us the Project Healing Waters guys made a steelhead fishing trip to the Wallowa River on March 21-22. He reported that the trip was very successful and their stay at Minam Motel with fishing guide Grant Richie was a very pleasant experience. Most of their time on the Wallowa River was spent in the stretch 5 miles above the Minam River confluence. Evidence produced of the success of this trip was pictures of Derek and Brandon with steelies in hand.

Jerry tells  us that they also motored down to the Wenaha River, coming off Wildcat grade (a rather wild experience in itself) and hiked upriver out of Troy, OR where they hooked into quite a few wild steelhead and Dolly Varden "Bull trout".

Are you veteran? would you like to share or learn fly fishing experiences with fellow vets of our Walla Walla ~ NE Oregon area? Please contact our Walla² Fly Fishers' chapter of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc via email - - and let's go fishing.
A Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc video presentation

Respectively submitted,
Dale McKain
Club Secretary

Tight lines and good fishing.

Walla² Fly Fishers

Dave Stemmer – PresidentTom Craig – Vice President
Doug Coe – Treasurer
Dale McKain – Secretary ~ Blogmaster

Dave Stemmer - PROJECT HEALING WATERS Coordinator
Jerry Newell -RIP- PROJECT HEALING WATERS Coordinator

No comments:

Post a Comment