FISHING EXPERIENCE (FX)WQW’s core therapeutic recreational experience
The Fishing Experience (FX) is WQW’s core recreational activity and therapeutic program.
Each FX brings qualified post-9/11 combat veterans to southwest Montana for a week-long program of fly fishing and relaxation in the peaceful landscape characteristic of the Rocky Mountains. WQW works strategically with partner organizations in order to identify potential participants who meet placement criteria and are committed to positive change. Such partnerships have included Wounded Warrior Battalions and Warrior Transition Units. Participants come from all branches of military service, limited to those who have been combat-wounded and/or are currently struggling socially or professionally due to mental health conditions or traumatic brain injuries acquired during combat operations post-9/11. Click here to learn about WQW’s current suggested criteria.
Selected participants travel to Bozeman from across the United States to spend a week learning the craft of fly fishing while applying their new found skills on some of the most pristine, blue ribbon rivers in North America.
WQW provides travel/airfare, lodging and meals all at no cost to the warrior. WQW also provides each warrior with fly fishing equipment and professional instruction. By returning home equipped with gear, warriors are able to continue the sport independently and with confidence. Equipment includes rod and reel, SIMMS waders, SIMMS boots, a Mystery Ranch pack, wading staff, fly fishing tools, tippet, leader, and an assortment of flies.
A Typical Fishing Experience Schedule
MONDAY: ARRIVAL DAY
Warriors arrive in Bozeman by air and are met by WQW staff and volunteers. The warriors are then transported by the volunteers to Quiet Waters Ranch for a home-made lunch prepared by volunteers and to get settled in. Once all the warriors have arrived, the volunteers drive warriors to SIMMS Fishing Products headquarters to be outfitted with waders, boots, shirts, jackets and other gear necessary for Montana’s unpredictable weather conditions. Once outfitted, the warriors load up their gear in volunteer vehicles and retire to Quiet Waters Ranch for a relaxing evening and wonderful home-cooked meal provided by the volunteer cooks.
TUESDAY: FLY FISHING 101
WQW’s Director of Operations gives the group a block of instruction on fly-casting, and the functions of their fly-fishing gear; after instruction, the warriors are paired with their companions and professional fly-fishing guide. The warriors then enjoy an outdoor lunch prepared by the volunteer cooks before setting out on private ponds with their guide and companion or spouse to hone their skills and catch some fish. In the evening, warriors head back to the lodge for an optional therapeutic massage provided by local professional massage therapists. After another delicious dinner prepared by volunteer cooks, the group is introduced to fly-tying by local experts. Each warrior can learn how to tie that special fly for the next day’s fishing adventure.
WEDNESDAY: FISHING DAY
This is the warriors’ first introduction to some of Montana’s premier Blue Ribbon trout streams. Each warrior spends the day either floating or walking/wading with their guide and companion or spouse on one of the many public or private waters around. Adaptive equipment is available upon request. Back at the Ranch, the warriors have time to clean up and get a therapeutic massage before joining companions, guides and volunteers for a BBQ and a chance to tell “fish stories” from the day’s adventures. After dinner, the warriors are given another opportunity to tie more flies for Friday’s fishing if they so choose.
THURSDAY: REST & RELAXATION DAY
Thursday is rest and relaxation day. After traveling to Bozeman and fishing for two days, the warriors get a chance to relax and enjoy a variety of choices for their “day off.” Dinner for the warriors will be provided by the volunteer cooks at Quiet Waters Ranch.
FRIDAY: FISHING DAY
The warriors once again head out with their guides and companions or spouses for a full day of fishing. One objective of WQW is to introduce warriors to different types of fly fishing. Therefore, if the warriors floated on Wednesday, then they would most likely walk/wade this day, and vice versa. At days end, the entire group of warriors, guides and volunteers meets at Quiet Waters Ranch for a farewell dinner.
SATURDAY: DEPARTURE DAY
Warriors are driven to the airport for their departure by volunteers. By now the warriors have become a part of the WQW family and leave knowing they are cared for and are always welcomed back and encouraged to return. They also have the basic skills and equipment necessary to continue the healing sport of fly fishing wherever fishable waters may be found.