Fly Fishing Film Tour returns to Silverthorne for third year | SummitDaily.com

Fly Fishing Film Tour returns to Silverthorne for third year

Elise Reuter
ereuter@summitdaily.com

On a beautiful spring or fall afternoon, near one of Summit County's mountain streams, you might catch a group learning to fish for the first time. But in the words of Jim Buckler, owner of Cutthroat Anglers in Silverthorne, "This is more than just going out fishing."

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, a national nonprofit with the mission of teaching disabled military personnel to fish, brings veterans across the state to Summit twice a year. Veterans selected for the program are taken in small groups out to the rivers across Colorado for each trip.

"These guys have survived the war, but they've clearly left a lot behind," Buckler said. "At one of the venues, a veteran said, 'This reminds me of Afghanistan.'"

He recalled one fishing trip where the group had to cross a small bank in a narrow area, overgrown with willows. To most, it would just appear to be a narrow path, but, in a combat situation, it would be a type of location to avoid.

"He was traumatized, but he did it," Larry Lunceford, a longtime volunteer recalled of one veteran's experience.

Lunceford, Buckler and a group of local volunteers have supported more than 14 fishing trips since Mike Oros helped bring the program to Summit County in 2010. Veterans from across the state are brought to a few selected locations to learn to fish, build rods and tie flies.

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Trips range from one to two-and-a-half days and are focused on the therapeutic effects of fishing, as well as the camaraderie of sharing experiences with a group of veterans ranging from all wars: Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan and even World War II.

"You just have to break the ice, get them involved and give them the confidence," Oros, another volunteer who helped bring the event to Summit County, added.

FUNDING THROUGH FILM

Every year, Project Healing Waters will bring together a team of 80 to 100 volunteers to help guide veterans, and provide food, fishing gear and housing. The program is funded in part through the Fly Fishing Film Tour, a viewing of the sport around the globe combined with a silent auction.

This year, the Film Tour will be hosted at the Silverthorne Pavilion the evening of Feb. 18. The hope is to raise more than $26,000, the amount that was raised last year. Since the program's start, Project Healing Waters in Summit County has served more than 200 veterans.

"Fishing is the tool, but they're getting active coaching so they can repeat this training," Oros added.

He recalled one veteran who went from having no fishing experience to starting his own guiding career.

"He was in the rehab hospital here," Oros added. "While he was in the hospital he fished, fished, fished."

The program supplies veterans equipment they can keep, with the idea of cultivating a new habit or ability that they can turn to anytime.

"It's not one and done. We're trying to teach them a lifetime skill," Lunceford added.

Numerous studies have been written on the therapeutic effects of fishing. Not only is the concept of being in the great outdoors, surrounded by beautiful mountain streams, but the focus the sport takes also has its own merit.

"There's enough going on with the water, the bugs — you can't think about anything else," Lunceford said. "I try to think about the worst problem I have when I'm fishing and I can't do it."

He added that the most rewarding — and crucial — piece, was thanking them for their service.

"After the event, one of the individuals went home and explained his experiences overseas," Oros, another volunteer, added. "He felt it was the first time he was thanked."

"We're able to sit here, have a Starbucks coffee and not worry about anything because of them," Lunceford concluded.

3rd Annual Silent Auction and Fly Fishing Film Tour Festival

When: Thursday, Feb. 18

Where: Silverthorne Town Pavilion 400 Blue River Parkway, Silverthorne, CO

Tickets: $12 in advance, $15 at the door. Advance tickets can be purchased at Cutthroat Anglers, Mountain Angler in Breck and Alpine Bank branches.

For more information on the films, visit http://www.flyfilmtour.com

Proceeds go to Project Healing Waters. For more information, visit http://www.projecthealingwaters.org

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