lending a helping hand…




Cleveland Healing Waters

Years ago in March, I fished with the Ohio Steelhead guide, Monte Casey, on Ashtabula Creek for steelhead running out of Lake Erie into the feeder creeks and rivers. The weather was 17 degrees and after 15 minutes on the water I really wanted to end the trip and go back to my mother in laws house in Lakewood where I was staying with my wife, Diana and our two children. It was so cold, my fly line was frozen to the rod. Yes, to the rod not just the guides. The nymphs we were using were not detectable, they were just cubes of ice. Yeah, slinging ice requires an open loop. 

The first fish on was a real cluster mess. Running and sliding through the ice with a frozen reel was strategic and challenging. After the glow of the fight and landing, I forgot the pain of numb fingers and toes. Many fish were landed that day and the walk back was concerning knowing that frostbite may be an issue. It all worked out and another experience to remember, especially what I learned from Monte, an excellent guide and angler. 

I stayed in contact with Monte. In September of 2017 Diana and I visited her mother. Monte and I spoke about his Healing Water’s event at the Cleveland Metro Parks Expo and I offered to help. Monte introduced me to Janis and her service dog, Frank. Janis suffers from PTSD . Along with her dog and fly fishing/fly tying Janis has a reason to carry on. We all need a reason and I am dead certain that angling gives me that “eternal hope” to get through the rigors of life. I showed Janis how to tie a white buck tail Clouser and she was very grateful. I love it when people are grateful for your help – makes my day. Little did I know, that six months later Janis would really make my day.

In April of this year Diana and I flew back to Lakewood, Ohio to take care of her mother’s house. Yep, I contacted Monte for a day steelheading. The weather was iffy but we got out and fished the Chagrin River. Monte’s hopes were not high but that is always a good sign to me and I was right. We put a lot of steelhead on the banks of the Chagrin and this time it was a warm 40 degrees and raining. I was a happy camper promising to help Monte with the Sunday Healing Waters event on Rocky River. Monte was shorthanded and needed my help with the 8 vets showing up at the fabulous Cleveland Rocky River Metro Park. I was honored to help out, especially with the VETS. 

Janis is a quick learner. Realizing a firm wrist and short accurate cast is “the ticket” she managed to hook and release her first two steelhead. I will always remember her comment as we walked downstream with a 7 pound steelhead – “You know I think I would rather be tying a fly”. The second fish may have changed that. I hope so but hey, fly tying in itself is an art and a healer . 

I was so stoked when Janis hooked her steelhead. It will be one of my grand angling moments. You see, I have caught my share of fish. Don’t get me wrong, I love to fish “my guts out”; however, now in my old age – it really gives me a great thrill to help someone “hook up”. Maybe this is what it is all about? Thank you Janis for letting me help you – and thank you Monte Casey for a giving me the opportunity. 

– Jim Solomon, MCI

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