Higher Ground’s Military Program held its first local fly fishing camp of 2018 at some of the best spots the Wood River Valley has to offer. Many fish were caught by all and all sizes of fish, were caught. While the participants had a lot of time for the adventure and bonded with one another, many were surprised to discover the profound sense of peacefulness that fly fishing brings. Local fly fishing legends, Mark Milkovich, Gary Vinagre, Dick Ensch, and Jeff Burley graciously shared their decades of wisdom and experience with our enthusiastic new learners. They were assisted by HG’s own fly fishing guides-in-training, Lisa and Rich Cardillo, and Justin Safley.
Participants were swimming in new knowledge. They learned what to look for in the rivers and streams to find the fishes’ favorite hiding spots. They learned how to set up and change out their flies and lines. They learned how to read the local insect population and calculate which ones the fish were biting. They learned the subtle and graceful art of casting. And most importantly, the wild beauty of the Wood River Valley taught them a new way to relax and to just be in nature.
Participants came from all over the country: Alabama, Indiana, Virginia, and Washington. With only four couples, this camp was less busy and more intimate, something that allowed for more personal connecting between the people there. Husbands and wives were able to spend rare, quality time together, away from children and other family members. Couples got to bond with one another and discover shared experiences, both trials and tribulations. And all were thrilled with their fly fishing guides, expressing gratitude and fondness for people who were more than happy to take time out of their own lives to enrich the lives of strangers.
While some of the participants could have spent every waking hour casting flies onto flowing waters, a few found themselves looking for a bit more variety. Lucky for them, Jordyn Dooley stepped in to guide them through a meaningful art project the couples enjoyed doing together. They harvested natural materials from the surrounding land and then collaborated in the design of the items into a nest that symbolized their relationships. In this creation, they were able to get a new perspective on their lives with one another. Some of the couples were excited to take the drive up to Galena Pass and view the majestic mountain range of the Sawtooth Wilderness. Oohs and aahs were shared by all.
On the second-to-last day of camp, participants were able to cast for the monster trout that prowl around E-Da-Ho Pond, scoring some of the largest fish of the trip. The day was concluded in the warm embrace of Jim and Susie Croul, who generously opened their lovely home and hearth to the crew for a mouth-watering dinner of homemade pizzas and slow-cooked brisket. The final day came all too soon but the die-hard fly fishers were able to spread one last time throughout the Wood River Valley, searching the holes and pockets for hungry trout. Though the last few Idaho mountain nights grew cold and brisk, all returned home warmed and glowing with the people they met and the adventures they shared. This serves as a reminder of what a beautiful place we live in and what a gift it is to share it.