Written and photographed by: Ed Felker, Dispatches from the Potomac
The Project Healing Waters 2-Fly Tournament is held each spring at Rose River Farm, PHW’s Home Waters in Syria, Virginia. It has always been a weekend punctuated with powerful moments, and the eleventh annual event was no exception, with temperatures and emotions both running a bit higher than forecast. But, Project Healing Waters is a family of sorts. In fact, it has never felt more so to me. And as always, everyone involved came together in mutual support and camaraderie. The 2-Fly is also a celebration, though, and friends old and new were issued generous doses of friendly ribbing at any and every opportunity. Here are some highlights . . .
During the festivities on Saturday evening, Project Healing Waters’ founder, Ed Nicholson, was presented with the organization’s highest honor, the Patriot Award. Through tireless devotion to the cause of healing our wounded servicemen and women, Ed has touched more lives than he can count, and saved more than he can imagine.
The last few 2-Fly weekends have been cold and rainy. But as anglers geared up early Sunday morning, it was already warm, and an early fog burned off, leaving behind its humidity for the rest of the day. Here Eivind Forseth looks for the right two flies to use for the day. If they don’t work (or if he loses them), his tournament is over, so these are important decisions.
A permanent plaque remembering Brian Mancini, a big part of the Project Healing Waters family, was dedicated before the tournament began. The pool where Brian first fished with a fly rod, where he first felt the healing power of standing in flowing water and casting to a trout, will from this day forward be known as Brian’s Pool.
With the last of the morning mist burning off the Rose River, Chris Rowland was among the first to fish the pool newly named for his dear friend.
Rick Warrington, guided by Gavin Robinson, smiled big after catching this stunning brook trout.
The prize for biggest fish of the day went to Rob McKennan for this gorgeous 22-inch monster. Rob and Jim Graham, guided by Jimmy Aliff and Ira Strouse, respectively, came in first place among the Pro/Vet teams.
Robert Bartlett, like a lot of fly fishermen, enjoys being on the water whether he’s catching fish or not.
Rob Snowhite, who was guiding Lee Barbee on Sunday, tenderly releases a rainbow back into the river.
Judge Thomas Hogan, a fixture at the annual 2-Fly since its inception and the keynote speaker on Saturday night, searches for a big trout on Sunday morning.
Top guides from all over the country come to help 12 servicemen and women catch beautiful trout like this one.
What do you get when you combine a great group of participants, tireless staff, dedicated hard working volunteers, generous donors and a little cooperative weather thrown in for good measure? You get a family reunion, and the best weekend of the year.
Ed Felker is an artist, graphic designer, writer, and outdoorsman who lives in Virginia. He writes the Dispatches from the Potomac blog, which is worth checking out, if you like the outdoors, dogs, and fly fishing.