War veterans fly-fish Eagle River as part of annual Healing Waters event | VailDaily.com

War veterans fly-fish Eagle River as part of annual Healing Waters event

Project Healing Waters participant Jim Westervelt, left, of Colorado Springs, brings in a trout while Fly Fishing Team USA member Corey Roberts, of Georgia, prepares to scoop it up in a net during a Vail Veterens fishing trip Wednesday at Camp Hale.
Special to the Daily |

CAMP HALE — With the best fly fishermen in the country currently in Eagle County, there’s no better time to get a few pointers on your technique.

Project Healing Waters brought a group of veterans to Camp Hale this week to do just that.

Fly Fishing Team USA, currently in town for the America Cup International Fly Fishing Tournament, shared their secrets with a group of servicemen on Wednesday, offering the veterans personalized instruction in the finer points of their craft.

“We learned little techniques about where to cast, my guide taught me a new technique to tie a dropper knot, a much quicker way than I was doing it,” said Randall Steiger. “Absolutely it advanced my skills.”

Steiger, 31, is a veteran of the Army’s 11th Armored Cavalry, also known as the Blackhorse Regiment. He fought in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004 and 2005.

Support Local Journalism

“I was in a really dark place with life after my experiences in combat,” he said. “This last year hanging out with (Project Healing Waters) really helped me out. I had something to look forward to, had some really good camaraderie. It truly works in healing.”


The veterans weren’t the only ones enjoying themselves on the Eagle River and Nova Guides’ private water on Wednesday.

Instructors like Russell Miller, of Team USA, said spending a day with a serviceman is something every guide should experience.

“It was really great being out here today,” Miller said. “Just being on the water with these guys and watching them light up every time they pulled out a fish.”

Pete Lofy with Project Healing Waters said the America Cup Serviceman’s Day is one of the best opportunities their organization is able to take part in.

“It’s trips like this that really make this program special,” Lofy said. “The amount of knowledge here is probably more fishing experience than we’ll ever know.”

Capping off the day, the America Cup International Fly Fishing Tournament presented Project Healing Waters with a $5,000 donation.

“Our goal is just to make these guys better anglers,” tournament director John Knight said.

The America Cup International Fly Fishing Tournament competition will be held Friday through Sunday at various locations in Eagle and Summit counties, including the Eagle River in Wolcott.

“It’s the first time we’ve been able to have competition on private water in Wolcott,” Knight said. “It’s going to be spectacular.”

Support Local Journalism