I was taught to fish primarily by my father who was in the navy as well as by my uncle Leonard who was also in the navy and my uncle Robert who was in the army. Another uncle Tony was in the air force and was shot down over Germany and spent over a year in a German prison. My uncle Leonard gave me my first fly rod and with the help of my dad and these great uncles I became an accomplished fisherman with a love of being on a stream with either a fly rod or a spinning rod.
I guess you can say veterans have almost always been my fishing partners. One of my closest friends and fishing partner is Steve Peace, a marine vet. Steve and I have been fishing together since the mid 1960s and still spend weekends in North Carolina fishing for trout, days on the Etowah catching striped bass and take extended trips to the Florida Keys, and between the two of us we have caught almost every game fish species found in the Keys.
Steve and some of my other friends returned recently from an extended stay in the Keys. During that trip Steve took a lot of folks out on day trips and even took his grandchildren out to experience what Steve and I have been doing since the early 1980s. His 10-year-old grandson Colton landed his first lemon shark, which was about 6 feet long and weighed around 100 pounds. The fishing thrill of his life.
On one outing Steve and crew were fishing for tarpon when he spotted a monster barracuda hanging around the boat. He dropped some cut bait down and landed the cuda which was about 4 feet long and well over 35 pounds! Steve and I have probably caught well over a thousand barracuda over the past 30 years, but none of them approached the size of this fish. Steve was using 15-pound test line which is fairly light for getting in a fish of this size and speed but having many years of practice he was able to successfully land this huge fish. For those folks that have never fished for barracuda before these fish are extremely fast, jump like tarpon and can cut a two-pound snapper in half so cleanly that it looks like it was cut with a razor. Steve is not only a military veteran but a veteran fisherman.
This Saturday veterans from all across Northwest Georgia are invited to Rolater Park in Cave Spring to participate in Trout Unlimited’s Fly Fishing for Vets Day. There will not be any barracudas or tarpon in Cave Spring but I will guarantee that there will be a lot of trout to be caught.
This is the sixth year that the Coosa Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited has held our Fly Fishing for Vets Day and participation has increased each year. Our goal is to get our vets and active military to the water and get them “hooked on fishing.” Fishing can take veterans’ minds off of all the issues that might be troubling them. When a person is intent on getting a fish to take the bait or lure, there is little else on their mind. It seems that all a person who is fishing can think about is fooling a fish.
We invite all veterans as well as active duty military to come to Rolater Park in Cave Spring from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and spend some time with other veterans with the goal of catching some trout. The pond will be reserved for those wanting to learn fly fishing or improve their skills at fly fishing. The vets that do not desire to fly fish can bring any type fishing gear and fish Little Cedar Creek which is one of the heaviest stocked trout streams in the area. All that is required is that the angler has a valid fishing license and trout stamp.
All vets will get free food and drinks during the day and will be eligible for door prizes that will be given away. In order to qualify for the door prizes the vet must register.
The next meeting of the Coosa Valley Chapter of TU will be today at 6:30 p.m. at the Rome Floyd ECO Center at Ridge Ferry Park. Our Guest speaker will be David Cannon who will be speaking about peacock bass fishing. The public is invited.