by Scott Prater
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
"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
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.