Camp began early Monday morning, when all the athletes, staff, and volunteers met for a quick rundown of the week. Veteran anglers and newbies alike, quickly formed relationships based on their involvement with High Fives. Athletes then joined Matt Heron, Mike Porter, and their team of volunteers from Trout Unlimited at Squaw Creek, for a morning of casting instruction, followed by a bit of fishing in the quiet ponds beneath the stoic peaks of Squaw Valley. In the afternoon, the crew met at Truckee River Winery for lunch provided by Mountain Valley Meats, while sharing stories about life post-injury.
Tuesday, the crew met at Sawmill Pond, nestled in the fir trees of Northstar Resort. Some athletes were loaded into drift boats, while others picked their way around the shoreline for some spot-fishing. Dennis Mankel snagged the catch-of-the-day with a gorgeous 18” rainbow trout.
My injury prevented me from reeling this one in and I stood in the boat with my right arm raised like the Statue of Liberty, until my guide, Bailey, was able to help strip my line in and land this fish.
#highfivesathlete Dennis Mankel
For the final day, High Fives athletes were invited to the historic San Francisco Fly Casters 334-acre, private fishing lodge. Athletes and guides quickly broke off to scout the southern shores of the Truckee River, in search of that one fish to give them bragging rights for the rest of the year. Matt Heron and Mike Porter ensured everybody, regardless of injury level and whether walking, or in a wheelchair, was able to get their flies in front of fish. Lunch was served in the lodge, beneath a large, rough-hewn plaque over the fireplace that read “WARM YE IN FRIENDSHIP – THERE’S MORE TO FISHING THAN FISH,” a statement that perfectly defined the week for these athletes. “I am so grateful to High Fives and the Tahoe Truckee Trout Unlimited for an incredible few days on the water. Not only did I catch fish – which is a thrill that never gets old- I was able to reconnect with nature and reset the bar for what is possible in my recovery. Other than my wedding, this was the most meaningful experience I’ve had since my injury.”-Ryan Mclaren
At the conclusion of camp, athletes walked away with smiles on their faces and a fishing story in their pocket. High Fives Foundation looks forward to growing the partnership between Trout Unlimited and expanding this camp to include more adaptive athletes.