A Fly Rod in My Sea Bag

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I consider myself a C4 fisherman, in that I fish for whatever I Can, whenever I Can, wherever I Can, and however I Can. Given a choice, I usually choose a fly rod. I grew up in Great Falls, Montana. Growing a Montanan, I was immersed in an outdoors culture. I learned to fish about the time I learned to walk and to hunt not long after that. I began to tie flies at age six, and was tying commercially by the  time I was eight. As a teenager, I worked summers in a tackle store and winters in a taxidermy studio. I spent one summer as a custom fly rod builder’s apprentice.  After high school, I enlisted in the Navy in 1985.  At the time, it was join the service or become a trout bum. Though I took the high ground and remain on active duty, I sometimes wonder how the trout bum plan would have worked out. My career in the Navy has allowed me to fish on six continents and catch dozens of species of fish, mostly on a fly rod. I served in Iraq in 2005 where I founded the Baghdad Angler’s Club and School of Fly Fishing. I wrote the book, A Fly Rod in My Sea Bag, about my time in Iraq and the club I started up to support service men and women far from home. I have spent 33 years in uniform, 20 of those years at sea or deployed, including command of the amphibious dock landing ship, USS ANCHORAGE (LPD 23).  I am a proud Ambassador of Temple Fork Outfitters and only fish with TFO rods – Power to the Angler.  I am currently stationed in Pennsylvania and support the Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Program at every opportunity.

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2 thoughts on “A Fly Rod in My Sea Bag

    • I too was a C4 fishermen, 50 years ago in Vietnam, after a muffled bubble in the river many fish (some unrecognizable to my Kansas fisherman’s eye) flooded to the top of the water and my buddy and I gave fish to about a dozen kids who looked pretty damn hungry. It was the ultimate boom-catch-and-cook day.
      An,old now, FMF Corpsman with the 1st Marines 67-68 I discovered Healing Waters this past year. After forty years of suppressed survivors guilt this group has unknowingly helped me heal the guilt of memories of Marines who died so long ago that I was unable to save. Life’s a bitch then you die.
      This summer I tripped with the KC Healing Waters group to Missouri for a fishing trip that was fantastic. A volunteer staff member helped me sit in a lawn chair in 18 inches of crystal clear water. My casts were jerky (a kind description) and the strike indicater was hard to see sitting but I managed to land six trout, each one measuring over 20 inches. These trophy’s were more about the hatchery than they were my expertise. I was heard to yell “oh net boy…” to summon the volunteer to help me net each catch. The Missouri Fly club members who volunteer with the KC Healing Waters club are now brothers-in-rods. Unlike many pictures of volunteers fishing in other chapters you only see veterans fishing in this chapter’s photo book.
      Rather than a challenge coin I would like to send you a fly I will tie to challenge you to continue all you can be to the mission of Healing Waters. I will need your snail mail, you can contact me at rick@pustka.com
      Semper Fi
      Doc

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