2014 – Fourth Annual Fly Fest - DEC 5-7
The Fourth Annual Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Fly Fest was held at Harman’s Luxury Log Cabins in Cabins, W.Va., Dec. 5-7. The event was hosted by the PHWFF Fort Belvoir and PHWFF Quantico Programs with 73 people attending, including 35 Wounded Warriors among the 50 combat Veterans. For 19 Warriors, it was the first time they had traveled to Harman’s: for four Warriors, this was the first time they had ever fly fished.
The weekend included hours of cold rain and drizzle and ended with a full day of sun on Sunday. As a milestone for the annual event, PHWFF owned all the cabins at Harman’s for the weekend.
The stream had been recently stocked by Harman’s with rainbow and brown trout, ranging in size from 17 to 20 inches. The waters were clear on Friday and fishable Saturday even during the constant rain. Sunday, the water was cloudy and fast. However, every Warrior landed fish during the three-day event. PHWFF Quantico invited Warriors from six different PHWFF programs.
Friday and Saturday evenings involved Warrior equipment giveaways and raffles prizes donated by supporters from around the country and Volunteer recognition. Friday evening included a “Fly Fishing 101” presentation by Duber Winters and Kaitlin Groundwater from the Woodbridge Orvis Store; they attended all weekend as Volunteer guides. Both evenings were filled with various fly tying instruction at different cabins on the Harman’s property. Volunteers and professional guides provided the free instruction.
For the first time, an action track motorized chair was used for a Warrior who had mobility and stability limitations. This chair allowed the Warrior access the river and fish along the bank. This Fort Belvoir Warrior was able catch his first-ever trout on a fly rod because of the availability to use the motorized chair loaned from Marine Corps Base Quantico Natural Resources Environmental Affairs.
This year’s event saw eight current Warriors transition to Volunteer Guides for new Warriors. The Warriors expressed interest in wanting to give back by helping new fly fishers learn how to catch fish.
Bigg Riggs Farm, owned by Calvin Riggleman (AKA Bigg Rigg), a Marine combat Veteran and small farmer from Loom, W.Va., provided all meals for the three-day event. Bigg Rigg has been catering for Harman’s events for PHWFF the past four years; he caters for each of our biannual trips. This year, for something new, Bigg Rigg provided a roasted, 125 pound pig on Saturday night.
Event coordinators organized a food drive for the local Petersburg Interfaith Food Pantry and asked all attendees to participate. A total of 750-800 pounds of food were donated. The pantry director visited the event on Saturday and humbly accepted the donations.
(photo by Lally Laksbergs)