Thursday, April 24, 2014
Fly Fishing Florida - IFFF Florida Council - Education

The Programs:

The Florida Council of the International Federation of Fly Fishers is dedicated to conservation, education and restoration of the environment for all fish in all waters.

Special events such as casting clinics and fly tying workshops are held for the education and enjoyment of fly fishers. Local club meetings often offer access to great speakers and programs.

Many thanks to Temple Fork Outfitters for providing rods and reels for the casting clinics, the Renzetti Corp. for providing all the vices and tools for fly tying sessions and Jim Teeny for providing his excellent fly lines.
These are sponsors who have committed to supplying equipment for council programs.

Temple Fork Outfitters
Jim Teeny
Renzetti Corp.
Many of our clubs work with organizations within their communities to provide an educational experience for others.
The following article was written by our Council President, Tom Gadaz.

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) at Bradenton Yacht Club

May 2013 - Veterans, captains, guides, and volunteers had a great time on the waters in Palmetto, Florida. Larry Lurie, our regional coordinator, organized 17 boats with captains/guides and 20 volunteers who took veterans fly fishing. May 18th commemorated the second PHWFF event at the Bradenton Yacht Club, who hosted the event. PHWFF is a national non-profit (501c3) program that teaches veterans fly fishing, fly casting, fly tying, and fly rod building. It is helping heal the physical and emotional wounds of our veterans. Fly fishers all over the country organize fly fishing activities in conjunction with the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers and Clinics. This program is promoted by the International Federation of Fly Fishers and its charter and affiliated clubs. Members of Backcountry Fly Fishing Association of Orlando, Gulf Shore Fly Fishing Club, Mangrove Coast Fly Fishers, Mid Coast Fly Fishers, Suncoast Fly Fishers, and Tampa Bay Fly Fishing Club donated their boats and guides to make this event very successful and honor our veterans. Blenker boat works and the Croswait Memorial Tournament provided funds to support his event. These events get the veterans out on the water to catch fish with a fly rod. Many of the vets have spent time at VA facilities tying flies and learning how to fly cast. Several programs also include fly rod building programs. The veteran can build his/her own rod, tie their own flies and then get out on the water to use the fly fishing equipment that they made. All services are provided at no cost to our soldiers.

So how did our day go? We started with a hot breakfast and assigned each of the 18 veterans to a boat with its captain/guide and a volunteer. Four members from Suncoast Fly Fishers attended the event. Bob Schum is a veteran and now member of Suncoast. The other three are 3 Toms - Tom Jones, Tom Tolrud and Tom Gadacz. Veteran Bud Dickens from Pensacola and former U.S. Air Force fleet fighter, was assigned to Tom Jones and me. Bob Schum was assigned to Captain Rachel Nobbe-Cato. By 10:00 all were out on the water fishing. Most of the bait fish were in the grassy areas in 5 to7 feet of water. Mackerel, sea trout, flounder, and lady fish were the recorded catches. After 3 to 4 hours of fishing we were treated to a great lunch complements of the Yacht Club and exchanged fish stories. Naturally, the sizes and numbers of fish increased with each reiteration.

This event would not have been possible without the contributions of the captains and volunteers and the members of the Bradenton Yacht Club. We wish to thank all those involved in this event and to the many veterans who served to preserve the freedoms of our country. To them we owe our greatest THANKS!

Tom Gadacz
President, Suncoast Fly Fishers
President, Florida Council of the International Federation of Fly Fishers

Tom Tolrud and coordinator Larry Lurie scheduling

Regional coordinator Larry Lurie orienting the teams

Captains Shawn Raulerson, Frank Rhodes and John Hand

Tom Gadacz, veteran Bud Dickens, and Tom Jones

Veteran Bob Schum and his wife Carolyn; Tom Gadacz, Tom Jones, and Tom Tolrud

Veteran Bob Schum aboard Captain Rachel Nobbe-Cato's boat
Larry Lurie, Regional Coordinator, PHWFF recieved a letter from the wife of one of the participants and would like to share with those who volunteered to experience what your participation accomplished.

"Dear Mr. Lurie,

I would like to take this time to tell you Thank You for making my husband happy again. My husband is a Navy Veteran, and attends Bay Pines VA in St. Petersburg, Fl. He is not only a liver transplant patient, and a recent BKA (below the knee amputee). He has been in the wheelchair since October of last year and only uses the walker to go to bed or the bathroom. Since then he has not wanted to do too much other than sit in front of the TV or sleep.

The first time we heard of PROJECT HEALING WATERS was at the Amputee Support Group at the hospital. All the amputees were invited to go to the Community Living Center to learn how to tie fly's and make a rod if they liked. Bob was not really interested, but I took him over and we met with the guys from SUNCOAST FLY FISHERS. These guys took Bob under their wings and got him tying flies right away. On the way home I asked him if he wanted to go back and he said yes. So our anniversary was in a few days so I purchased a kit for him. Then we made a trip to Bill Jackson's, and started him out with a few things. Now he was excited to go back and show the guys what he had and get started. The guys told him where to go and what to get that wouldn't cost a lot. During the time that he is tying flies he is talking and learning and he is also sharing with other vets. We have since joined SUNCOAST FLY FISHERS, and they have made him feel like one of them even though he can't get around as well.

The last support group meeting they were told that PROJECT HEALING WATERS was having an outing on the 18th of May. Bob got really excited and the guys told him that he would have a great time, but take lots of sunscreen and that was all he would need. He counted the days until today arrived. He was like a little kid, up early and we had to be on the road by a certain time. When we arrived at the Bradenton Yacht Club we were early so we were unsure where we were to go. That was when we met Mike, and he took us over to the tent where we were greeted and made at home.

After having a great breakfast, the boats were assigned and that's when Bob was ready. He really hadn't been fishing since 2009, so this was a twofold treat. It made me feel really happy to see the care and help he received not only from Capt. Rachael and Chad the volunteer to help assist the Captain and the Veteran. I was shocked to see Bob get into the boat not only with his walker but to have his wheelchair there for him. He had the biggest SMILE on his face when they pulled away from the dock. I have to admit I had a tear in my eye to see him do it. This is a man, who was happy just to sit at home and do nothing. Now he is out and talking with people and doing things that he never would have done on his own. Thanks to PROJECT HEALING WATERS and SUNCOAST FLY FISHERS he is active again and enjoying life.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, and I know that you have given new life to a Vet in more ways than one.
Thank you again."

Sincerely Bob and Carolyn Schum

Photos From Other Projects
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