Heading north towards Wyoming, the harvest moon floated above the Rocky Mountains as if it wished to delay its setting, the final bales of hay yet to be trucked. Above and off to my left, an American Bald Eagle cruised over the open sun roof of my car. Talons withdrawn it may have been off to find new fishing grounds. In that we shared a common goal.
The eagle’s destination unknown, mine was called King Ranch. There I would meet up with several new friends, including Veterans of several foreign wars, for a morning of fishing hosted by Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing. The soaring eagle and the sun piercing the dusky horizon pointed to a great day ahead.
At the ranch all involved enjoyed a morning buffet of burritos, coffee and juice as fly line was threaded through guides on just assembled rods, leaders and tippets were tied and good-hearted laughter filled the crisp October air.
My fishing partner for the day was a wonderful gentleman named Al. I wasn’t surprised that we had ended up together; his vessel of service in the Navy was the A. A. Cunningham, the last name which also happens to be my wife’s maiden name.
I scanned my fly box for a fly to start the day, settling on a purple woolly-bugger. Somehow it felt right.
We walked to the far side of the lake, prompted by the advice of one of the local guides. Sure enough, just 5 minutes in Al reeled in a beautiful trout, his first ever on the fly.
Throughout the morning we continued to fish and chat, sharing stories and laughter. He missed a second fish about 45 minutes later and then around 11:00 AM he battled another huge rainbow, only to have the fish break off 15 feet from shore.
The day was a great success, thanks to the organization of Bruce and Duane, trip leads for the day, the great attitude of the vets and the kindness of the King Ranch to allow us all to spend quality time fly fishing and enjoying life.
I look forward to another trip in the near future with Al and his retired brothers-in-arms. It was an honor to be with so many heroes at one time.