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Fly fishing, fly tying and rod building program for veterans is expanding

Tying flies can be practical, thrifty, creative and relaxing. It can also be therapeutic, in the same way landing a trout that was hooked on a self-tied fly can be good for an angler’s head.

That’s the idea behind Project Healing Waters, a volunteer-based nonprofit group that uses fly tying, rod building and fly fishing to address the physical and emotional needs of disabled active military service personnel and disabled veterans.

A Pittsburgh chapter has been active for several years, organizing classes in fly tying and rod building, and getting vets outside including a successful fishing trip to Yellow Creek in Bedford County. In February a new chapter manager plans to launch two new fly tying classes and start setting up outdoor excursions.

“I love fly fishing and am passionate about serving our veterans,” said Healing Waters manager Amanda Thompson of Churchill. “My grandfather was in the Pacific in World War II, I have a cousin who was a Marine and after 9-11 I got involved in a Pittsburgh organization serving troops overseas. It’s kind of become a calling.”

Thompson said her goal is to expand Pittsburgh’s Healing Waters program to include new tying sessions at places and times that might be more convenient for working vets and set up new fishing experiences, possibly including a bus trip to Steelhead Alley.

“A lot of nonprofits out there are set up to help veterans in some way -- yoga, horseback riding, going down the Colorado River in a raft,” she said. “I think the thing that sets us apart is it’s not a one-time outing, it’s a program. Instead of fishing and ‘See ya’ later,’ it’s more like ‘See ya’ next week at the rod building class or the fly tying workshop.”

New fly tying classes could start as soon as next month at the Upper St. Clair “Old Rec Center” and Stephen Foster Center in Lawrenceville. The activities are free for disabled military service members. Tools and materials will be supplied, and activities staffed by Healing Waters volunteers. Get details or reserve a space at amanda.thompson@projecthealingwaters.org or www.facebook.com/phwFFpittsburgh.

Virtual archery

Too cold to get outside and shoot? A winter TechnoHunt archery league is being formed at The Archer’s Edge in Oakdale.

League members get 12 weeks of 25 shots in a series of video archery challenges. Entry is $130.

Weekly high score wins a $25 gift card from Kip’s Processing. Top eight shooters will square off April 26. Begins this week, call 412-489-5670 for details.

Fishing Lake Erie

Upper St. Clair Fly Fishing Club will feature a Lake Erie walleye and lake trout presentation at its next meeting 7 p.m Jan. 24 at the Upper St. Clair “’Old’ Rec Center” just down the road from the Upper St. Clair Municipal Building at 1770 McLaughlin Run Rd. Details at 412-835-6107.

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