You could say the One Fly is about steelhead fishing and not be wrong.
You could say it’s about a group of fishing friends getting together once a year for a steelhead-themed celebration, and you’d be right on.
You could and should know that it’s a labor of love for its organizers, led by Jack Gripp of Kentucky, Skip and Debi Hughes of Harborcreek Township, and Vickie Bost and Hans Lunser of Lake City, among others.
But knowing all that, you might also miss the point. The free, limited-entry event is imbued with something that’s clear not in its individual elements, and maybe not even in their sum. Given life about a decade ago as an impromptu catch-and-release contest between friends on the Lake Erie tribs, it’s grown since to have its own spirit, one possessed of equal parts charity and gratitude. It champions conservation, invites anyone who wishes to take part and sends them off after a full day with a full belly, prizes and pleasant memories.
It really showed in this year’s One Fly Oct. 8, when six Vietnam veterans from the Batavia (N.Y.) VA Medical Center were welcomed through the fabulous Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing program.
Lodging and transportation was arranged. Each guest was outfitted with a free rod, line reel and other gifts. Guides gladly gave up their fishing day to assist the veterans, some of whom never had fly fished or fished for steelhead.
The endeavor appears likely to lead to the establishment of an Erie chapter of Project Healing Waters, thanks to Hughes.
Have a look at how some of the veterans spent their day.