As I pulled into the parking lot of Hager’s Market, our usual meet up location, I could see a few vehicles with veteran license plates. I knew right away, these were our vets. One by one, each of them exited their vehicles and came over to my rig, truck with raft in tow. We all shook hands, introduced ourselves and shot the breeze. I could see off in the distance on Route 2, a black truck with two rafts attached, coming down the hill that over looks Hager’s. Those were our guides, Tom and Colby. It was time to fish!
We all rolled out, cruising down Route 2, Tom and Colby in the lead, myself and the veterans we were taking out in the rear. As we cruised through the various twists and turns of the mountainous roadway,I looked in my rear view, and for a split second the convoy of vehicles behind me reminded me of deployment. That thought was quickly interrupted as we pulled up to the drop in. This trip, we were fishing the upper Deerfield, or what locals call, “Fife”, named after the dam just North of us.
With the fresh mountain air filling our lungs, the rushing sound of the water filling our ears and the sun hitting our skin, all seemed right in the world. And then we started catching fish! Not minutes off the launch, Tom had our vets hooking up. Steady sticking fish most of the day with everyone getting a piece of the action. As you drift down the river with tunnel vision, watching your line and indicator, nothing else matters. And that translates into the positive energy and mood as we break for lunch on the riverbank.
Enjoying our lunch from Hager’s with the river as a backdrop we share fish stories from present to past, looking forward to what the rest of the day has in store. More fish were stuck, more smiles were had and more laughs were shared. It’s safe to say we hooked a couple vets, on fly fishing that is. By the end of the day strangers now becoming friends, share pictures from the day and exchange numbers. It was our mission in the beginning to “put a rod in their hands and a smile on their face.” And 3 years later we continue to do so, and the results are priceless every time.