Hunting News

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Fly fishing highlights summer for Schriever's single Airmen

by Scott Prater
Schriever Sentinel


7/17/2013 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- As 1st Lt. Daniel Arey waded into the South Platte River near Grant, Colo., July 5, he could hardly believe his luck. The veteran fisherman had grown up on the lakes and rivers of southern Maine, but fishing in the Rocky Mountains brought a whole new experience.

As a mid-day sun glimmered off the river's surface he swung his line to and fro like an experienced artist, landing his fly with perfect accuracy. Seconds later, a rainbow trout snatched his bait and the fight was on. The trout began by darting across the river then caught a strong current and raced for his life. Arey pulled and reeled as fast as he could. Stumbling over rocks and plants, he battled for what seemed like hours, but his fight ended in relief only minutes later as he held the magnificent 18-inch long fish in hands.

Seconds later, he dunked the trout back into the rushing river, allowing it to fill its gills. Then he let go and watched it swim away to fight another day.

"We catch and release; that's the rule up here," Arey said. "Besides, the most fun part of fly fishing is actually catching them. And, I don't like the taste of trout."

Schriever Sports and Fitness Manager Seth Cannello was standing nearby and congratulated Arey on his catch, but only for a few seconds. As soon as he turned back toward the river his line stretched taut. And, another fight began.

"I must have got 30 hits on my line throughout the day," Arey said. "I think I caught nine or 10, mostly in the afternoon."

Arey said the trip was the most fun he had fishing since he was kid, something he didn't expect when he signed up for the guided fly-fishing trip a month earlier.

Cannello organized the excursion as part of phase three of Schriever's Single Airman Initiative, an Air Force-wide campaign developed to provide outdoors activities for single and unaccompanied Airmen on base.

"I'm really glad I signed up," Arey said. "You can't beat that high-mountain river fishing. The setting was unbelievable and we were catching world-class fish. A few tourists even took pictures of us."

Cannello joined Arey and three other single Airmen on the guided fishing trip and said the fishing guides were invaluable to the experience.

"We were all experienced fishermen, but the guides knew where the fish were and they knew what they liked to eat," he said. "They also gave us tips on casting and what to do once we got a bite. The river was moving fast so they instructed us to use heavy weights and lines. My line was so heavy it felt like I was slinging rope, but thanks to their direction I was able to cast better later in the day."

The guides also helped fishermen avoid pitfalls, like their fellow fisherman's lines and giant rocks in the river. Arey said his guide rigged a new rod for him in the afternoon.

"I told him I was used to a different type of rod from my days back in Maine, so he pulled something out that I was more familiar with," Arey said. "In the morning I was losing a lot of fish because my hook wasn't setting, but I had a lot more success with the different rod."

The group fished for more than eight hours and all said they couldn't wait to do it again. Arey is planning another trip when family members visit later this summer and said he would use the guide service again.

"This is what the Single Airman Initiative is all about, getting people outdoors and doing activities they wouldn't do or couldn't afford to do on their own," he said. "We've done so many different activities this summer and it would be a shame if Airmen on base don't get to do at least one."

As part of the program, single Airmen have skydived, taken balloon rides, played paintball and hunted turkeys already this summer.

Cannello indicated there are four Single Airman Initiative events left this summer, including whitewater rafting July 26, ATV riding Aug. 9, mountain hiking Sept. 6 and pheasant hunting Sept. 27.

As of now, all events are full, but Cannello said he has been developing waiting lists and that people often drop out. Call 567-6658 to sign up for the wait list on remaining events.

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