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Fishing For Forces – Fishing Therapy

Fishing For Forces – Fishing Therapy

Adam Sinclair reports on the exceptional work undertaken by Bill Howell and the Fishing For Forces where fly fishing is used as therapy for wounded service personal and veterans.

What do you think about whilst your out fishing? The obvious answer is the fishing, the fish, the fly and what is going on around you. How many of us think about the trouble and problems in our life? Not many of us, I’m sure. That is the aim and mission of a great fishing charity that is taking wounded service personnel and veterans to the water for some fishing therapy.

Fishing For Forces (FFF) was launched in 2010 by Bill Howell, with the sole aim to take our wounded service personnel and veterans fishing; to date they have taken over two thousand to the waterside. On the 18th May a group from Tedworth House Recovery Centre were our guests at the Services Dry Fly Fishing Association (SDFFA) water in Netheravon.

A casual start to the day was kicked off with some words from the Vice Chairman of the association. Mark Hiskett followed up with a casting demonstration presented by the organiser of the day, Jon Crew. Bill handed out some great FFF T-Shirts and baseball caps as mementoes for each guest. Our eight guests were then paired up with mentors (SDFFA members) and we were let loose with instructions to be back by 12:30hrs for lunch.

Ex Royal Corps of Transport soldier Dave Morris takes to the water.
Ex Royal Corps of Transport soldier Dave Morris takes to the water.
Bill Howell (right) launched FFF in 2010 and in that time 2000 service personnel have been fly fishing.
Bill Howell (right) launched FFF in 2010 and in that time 2000 service personnel have been fly fishing.

Lake To Start

I was paired up with Dave Morris and we hit it off instantly. The banter was relentless. Dave is an ex Royal Corps of Transport Soldier and I’m a serving chef in the army so this meant we had a lot to say about each other’s trades, not all of it good! We decided to start on one of the lakes and get the basics of casting a fly out of the way and to talk about anything and everything that came up. It wasn’t long before Dave started talking about his injuries and subsequent health issues. In his words and a huge smile on his face he said, “I’ve had the big three, broke my back, had a stroke and a heart attack”. I was amazed at how he was taking everything in his stride.

We moved off the lake and had a walk along the river. We found a nice spot that was free from overhanging trees and other hazards and started to fish. Our attempts were futile. “Let’s regroup after lunch” I said to Dave. We were first in the queue for a superb buffet lunch provided by the association and took the opportunity to talk about who had caught, where and with what fly.

Adam Sinclair and Dave Morris partnered up for the day. Dave went on to win the heaviest bag of the day.
Adam Sinclair and Dave Morris partnered up for the day. Dave went on to win the heaviest bag of the day.
Lunch.

Taking The Nymph

With lunch out of the way we only had a few hours to catch a fish and save the blank! Mayfly were starting to come off but nothing was rising for them. I put on a size 14 Mayfly Nymph and then it happened. We started to find the fish. Dave was on fire and I was busy with the net. The fish were coming up from being hard on the bottom and hitting the nymph as it was twitched and manipulated to the surface. We lost five fish in quick succession and another five to the net. It wasn’t long until the whistle went to indicate the end of the day’s fishing.

A move to river and a switch to Mayfly nymphs brought a change in fortune.
A move to river and a switch to Mayfly nymphs brought a change in fortune.

Prize Giving

We all gathered around for the weigh in and prize giving. The day wasn’t about prizes but two were on offer from FFF for the biggest fish and biggest bag. Luke Du Laic won biggest fish with a great trout and Dave Morris won biggest bag. I can’t honestly remember seeing someone as happy as Dave and whatever their burden the whole group were smiling. They were presented with glass engraved tankard’s that I’m sure will see some use in the near future.

Luke Du Laic receives his award for biggest fish on the day from organiser Jon Crew.
Luke Du Laic receives his award for biggest fish on the day from organiser Jon Crew.

The day was amazing and made more special by sharing it with truly inspiring people who are working hard to recover from their injuries incurred whilst serving our country.
A plea to you all, if you can donate in any way or spend a day as a mentor with this charity helping the guests take their mind off the trouble and trauma in their lives then you will have genuinely assisted in their recovery and enhanced your lives as well.

I asked Bill at the end of the day if he had anything that he would like to say. His response was short and sweet but hit the nail on the head, “we have the formula and it works”.

Information about the charity can be found at www.fishingforforces.org and if you wish to find out if there is an event near you check the website events page or contact Bill at bill@fishingforforces.org

Adam Sinclair

Hampshire based Adam Sinclair is a serving soldier in the British Army and has fly fished for nine years. Adam is a committee member of the famous Services Dry Fly Fishing Association that was once kept by Frank Sawyer. Much of Adam’s fishing is on the Chalk Streams of the South, however, he has fished across the United Kingdom, Canada and Slovenia. Adam is an ambassador for Hunts Original and has recently been appointed the Pro Team Co-Ordinator for Costa Del Mar and Seapower UK.

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