Bronze Star, Chopper Pilot, dreams, Fly fishing, Fly fishing book, friends, fun, inspiration, journey, life, love, mountains, Peace, Platte Rivers PHWFF, Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Purple Heart, Smile, smiles, Starting Over, Tears of a Warrior, The Water Holds No Scars, Tony Seahorn, Vietnam Veteran
Welcome to the eleventh interview with the author/contributors of the Dec. 1 release anthology, The Water Holds No Scars: Fly Fishing Stories of Rivers & Rejuvenation, published by Tulip Tree Publishing, LLC.
Today’s author/interview is with Tony Seahorn, a highly decorated Vietnam veteran, author of Tears of a Warrior (with wife Janet Seahorn) and one of the best fly fisherman I’ve had the pleasure to share time on the water together.
Seahorn’s essay in the anthology is titled Healing Waters and PTSD.
1) Tell us about your first fly fishing rod and where you used it.
I grew up on the Upper North Platte River near Saratoga, Wyoming. From my earliest memories, Dad was a dedicated fly fisherman. About the age of 5 years old, he would take me along to observe him fishing and allow me to carry his trout in a wicker fish basket. When I turned seven, he gave me an old Phillipson bamboo fly rod which had seen better days. Back then, all fly rods were made of bamboo. Some cheaply made and others were true works of art. I remember the time I spent sanding and varnishing the treasured fly rod and also learning to replace the old thread wraps on the line guides and reel seat.
Dad owned his own heavy construction business in the Valley, so most of our fishing was in the evening after work. We lived along the banks of the North Platte, so normally we would wade into the river near home and find abundant opportunity to catch rising trout on a wet or dry fly. Occasionally we would drive a few mile up or down river to try different water.
My Dad was a fly fisherman all his life and probably the best at the sport I have ever known. I too have spent my life at least trying to improve on my knowledge of “standing in a river waving a stick”.
The learning continues.
2) You get the chance to write (but no fishing!) near a stream or pond. Your choice: Write with uninterrupted silence wondering if there are fish nearby, or; Write with fish constantly rising, slurping, and popping the surface the entire time. Which do you choose and why?
For me the tranquility and unknowing create an environment of peaceful contentment. Anticipating a rise adds to the special allure that makes moving water a place of comfort and happiness. Ideas for literary composition begin to flow as well.
3) Do you have a favorite fly and/or a favorite writing pen (or place to write)? Tell us about it/them.
I have never found a respectable rising trout that could resist a size 18 Parachute Adams. It is buggy and often represents either a mayfly or caddis dry. Equally important, I can see it floating on the surface!
4) Every fly fisherman/woman has a favorite fishing story (other than the one in the book.) Tell us yours (succinctly as possible.)
When you grow up on a great Western trout river, you learn by listening to other more experienced fly fishermen. One summer, when I was about 15, I heard two old timers quietly talking about a huge brown trout that would swim from his deep lyre and feed on the surface shortly after sunset. The bend in the river they described was about a mile downriver from my home. There was a steep eroded bank along the river bend where the local rancher had secured several logs and huge granite boulders to prevent further loss of land during spring runoff. The rugged rip rap structure provided a perfect hiding place for the big brown.
I had fished the section of river many time previously, but had been oblivious to the presence and mostly nocturnal feeding habits of the huge trout.
A few evenings later with much anticipation, I made plans to fish late in pursuit of the elusive monster. Upon arrival at the hole, I positioned myself on a log across the river where I could observe the far bank as the sun began to dip below the horizon. Just as dark set in, I suddenly saw a swirl and massive dorsal fin on the water’s surface. He appeared to be feeding on miller moths that were fluttering along the far river’s edge. Hurriedly I tied on a big hair fly known locally as a “Dusky”. On my first cast and drift, the fly was just short of where the fish had swirled. Nothing! My next cast was further upstream and closer to the far bank.
As the Dusky floated on a perfect dead drift, I just slightly twitched the fly to emulate movement. Suddenly, without warning the monster brown came completely out of the water with fly in mouth. I excitedly lifted my rod to ensure a good hook set. At 15-20 lbs., I had never seen, let alone hooked a trout so unbelievably large! He immediately dove and ran downstream with my reel screaming as the line pealed into my backing. And then the line stopped abruptly as the backing ended. I pointed my rod straight at the huge fish as the run never slowed. Then it was over! My rod and line went limp. My heart was in my throat!
I reeled in the slack line. The tippet had broken at the hook.
With mixed feelings of disappointment and satisfaction, I began the long walk home in the dark.
5) Let’s test your writing skills. Write a standard haiku about fly fishing.
Fresh mountain rainfall
Warm evening thermals stirring
Slurping trout feeding
6) Your final choice: You get to fish one place whenever you want, but only that place for the rest of your fishing days. Friends/family can come to fish with you, but cannot fish anywhere else. Where do you fish and why?
The Upper North Platte River. 100 miles of Freestone River and wild trout. One of the best and least known trout rivers in the West. Much of the upper access is National Forest and walk-in only. This is my home water and I love it! For me it is healing water.
Thanks, Tony for being here today. We look forward to reading your essay Healing Waters and PTSD along with the other great submissions on December 1, 2015.
Remember to leave a comment to be entered in the free book giveaway!
Friday’s interview, 12/04/15 is with Lou Phillippe, another award winning writer and fly fishing guru.
Pre-Release sale is on now. Until December 1, 2015 you can order The Water Holds No Scars: Fly Fishing Stories of Rivers & Rejuvenation for $17.95 + $4.00 shipping. That’s a savings of $7.00 off the cover price. This offer is only valid through Tulip Tree Publishing HERE.