As some of you may know, I'm a proud volunteer with the Crystal Coast Chapter of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing. Our group was formed less than a year ago, but we already have a great group of volunteers and some wonderful participants whom I can call friends at this point. We try to get everyone together once a month for some type of fly fishing outing. When we formed last summer, I knew a shad trip to the Roanoke the following Spring would definitely be on the check list. My first shad trip to the Roanoke was about six years ago. It's a beautiful river, with water flowing downstream over ancient boulders, clay banks lined with blooming trees, and echoes of turkeys calling through the forest. On that first trip to Weldon, six years back, I promised myself that I would return every spring for the rest of my life to chase those little shad. A lot has happened in my life since then, but so far, I've been able to keep that promise to myself. What an amazing fishery to experience and share with friends.
A few months ago, we put the word out to the guys that we would be heading to the river at the end of March, to chase the little silver bullets that migrate upriver every Spring. We spent several meetings teaching our members how to tie different types of shad flies, and spent evenings practicing casting 200gr sinking lines on 5wts. I made contact with a few good buddies who were kind enough to offer to host our Vets on their boats for the day. Everything seemed to fall into place.
A few days before the trip, the weather report took a turn for the worse, with a forecast of 100% rain. I spent those last couple days with knots in my stomach trying to make a decision on how to handle the trip with the bad weather.
We made a last minute call to move the trip back one day to try to escape the forecasted 100% chance of rain. We arrived at Weldon the following day and were welcomed by wind, unseasonably cold temps and gray skies with passing showers. Our guys are hardcore, and they stuck it out in the bad weather and were rewarded with a bunch of willing Hickory Shad.
I had the pleasure of watching a few of our Vets catch their first fish on fly that day. It's amazing how quickly you can forget about the cold and rain, when you've got a 5wt doubled over with a big roe shad on the other end.
Plenty of good stories were told over the buffet at Ralphs BBQ that afternoon, and I have no doubt a few new friendships were forged that day. The trip was a great success and it couldn't have happened without the generosity of people like Chuck Laughridge, Greg Hurt, and Dean Lamont...nor without the help of fine companies like Temple Fork Outfitters and Scientific Anglers. Most of all, I want to thank our PHWFF participants and all of our US Military who are out there fighting for our Freedom. I owe you all a debt of gratitude and I'm already anxious for next years PHWFF Shad outing on the Roanoke River.
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