Words and Images from Ed Felker

The Project Healing Waters 11th Annual 2-Fly

DSC_9101 copy

The Project Healing Waters 2-Fly Tournament is held each spring at Rose River Farm, PHW’s Home Waters. 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 forecasted. 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. To sum up with a cliche: We laughed, we cried. Here are some highlights…

DSC_8347 copy

Saturday evening’s program includes plenty of time to catch up with those we haven’t seen in far too long. Hopefully now that Eivind and Tara Forseth have moved to Virginia, I can see them more often! That’s Mark Eustis in the background hogging the oyster bar. Mark runs the PHW Stars and Stripers tournament in August on the Chesapeake Bay.

DSC_8270 copy

Former Miss Virginia Tara Wheeler was the Master of Ceremonies for the Saturday evening program and did a wonderful job. Tara has been a friend to Project Healing Waters for many years, and I hope she makes a habit of making the yearly trip from Charlottesville where she anchors the evening news for CBS19.

DSC_8415 copy

Judge Thomas Hogan has been a fixture at the annual 2-Fly since its inception, so it is as fitting as it is exciting that he agreed to be the evening’s Keynote Speaker. Hogan is a skilled and patient fly fisherman, a distinguished and highly respected federal judge, and one of the very nicest men you’ll ever meet. I have not read Hemingway’s Big Two-Hearted River, but it jumped to the top of my list when Judge Hogan spoke about its themes of the destruction of war, and the healing powers of nature. His words were pitch perfect for his audience, and kicked off a wonderful weekend of fun, fish, friendship and healing.

DSC_8500 copy

Even Project Healing Waters’ highest honor, the Patriot Award, seems inadequate when it comes to the organization’s founder Ed Nicholson. Introduced wonderfully by Chairman of the Board Bob Fitch to a sustained, standing ovation, however, Nicholson had to feel the love and gratitude in the room. 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. I couldn’t be more proud to call him my friend.

DSC_8589 copy

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 is looking 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.

DSC_8596 copy

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.

DSC_8650 copy

Brian’s absence was palpable. And those feeling the weight of his loss found the comfort of an understanding shoulder to lean on.

DSC_8679 copy

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.

DSC_8758 copy

Rick Warrington, guided by Gavin Robinson, smiled big after catching this stunning brook trout.

DSC_8815 copy

Jason Baker must catch a lot of trout to ooze such nonchalance with a huge rainbow on the line!

DSC_8924 copy

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.

DSC_8777 copy

Robert Bartlett, like a lot of fly fishermen, enjoys being on the water whether he’s catching fish or not. This is a photo of him not.

DSC_9082 copy

Rob Snowhite, who was guiding Lee Barbee on Sunday, tenderly releases a rainbow back into the river.

DSC_8937 copy

Tom Stark and Joanne Hopkins have been fishing in the 2-Fly for many years. If you think they might be slowed down by a new baby, you’ve never met Tom and Joanne before.

DSC_8668 copy

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.

DSC_9088 copy

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: