Paying it Forward (or Even an 11 Bravo can be Taught to Fly Fish)!

The week of Independence means a great deal to me.  We live in the greatest country on planet Earth, and our freedoms are worth any sacrifice in my opinion.  On July 3rd, I decided to drive down to my favorite spot on the Arkansas River.  I was a little hesitant that morning about going fishing cause I was a little under the weather.  However, I decided to go cause the fishing had been epic, and I was hoping to entice a few browns to take my ugly flies on the surface.

When I pulled into my usual spot, there was another truck there which surprised me.  I usually have the river to myself…most people forget that the Arkansas exists once the Mother’s Day caddis hatch is complete.  People fail to see the other epic events on the river like when the edges clear during the run off and the mayfly, stone fly, and caddis fly hatches that continue all summer long.   I got out of my truck but left the Avett Brothers blaring away on my stereo.  I got my gear together and noticed that the young man associated with the vehicle was still standing there.  What’s the deal with this guy?  Was the thought weighing on my mind.   I was curious which direction he was headed, and I’d fish the other.  I walked over and asked noting the tattoos on his arms.  He was waiting to see where I was heading.  I asked him if he’d ever fished this stretch of the Ark and he said no.  He’d recently cut ties with Ft. Bragg’s 82nd Airborne Division which got me excited.  I had spent 3 years with the division in the late 1980’s.  In fact, I love the 82nd Airborne Division.

Phil was this young paratrooper’s name, and he plans to attend MSU in Bozeman, Montana this fall.  Wants to be a nurse.   Oh course I asked him to join me on the river to fish.   We strolled down the river’s edge to get where I wanted to start.  I rigged his fly line in a similar stimulator/ice nymph fashion as mine, and we began to hit the pockets where the fish are cached.  Phil did great and he landed several very respectable browns.

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Phil playing a nice brown

Phil and I spent the majority of the morning smiling, laughing and high-fiving over the nice fish we landed.  I ribbed Phil by proclaiming that I could teach even an 11 bang bang how to fish!    We ended the day with lunch at Barry’s Den and vowed to fish together a few more times this summer.  Thanks Phil for your service to our country!  You’re a great man and will succeed in any endeavor!

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Cholla in bloom
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Phil with a nice brown
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Phil with a 17″ brown

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Josh Houchin says:

    That’s awesome, but there is no way that guy was a grunt. Grunts can barely speak coherently let alone fly fish!!

  2. Dennis Stachewicz says:

    Sure he wasn’t a Tanker…sounds like he is awfully smart to have been airborne 🙂

  3. Only two things fall out if the sky…just kidding! Great post brother!

  4. Dale Hernden says:

    Typical of Shawn to befriend a stranger. I bet you even make friends on the internet 🙂

  5. Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you penning this post and also the rest
    of the website is also very good.

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