FLY FISHERMAN: Star-Studded Film Highlights Healing Value of Fly Fishing
May 4, 2023
There will be a special advance screening of Mending the Line presented by Fly Fisherman magazine June 3, 2023 at the Allenberry in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania. Tickets are $25 at ticketleap.com. 100% of ticket proceeds go to Warriors and Quiet Waters, and there will be raffles and silents auctions for tackle, outerwear, flies, artwork, and much more. After the show there will be a panel discussion with WQW alumni, director Joshua Caldwell and others about the film and the healing power of fly fishing. Be there to support our vets!
My first short social media introduction to Mending the Line informed me that the film—in production at the time—was a drama about a veteran with PTSD and the healing power of fly fishing. But a summary like that is about as trite as saying Catcher in the Rye is a “coming-of-age story” or that All Quiet on the Western Front is “about the horrors of war.” Both are true but also unfair treatments of great works of art that are complex, nuanced, and reveal much deeper things to us both as individuals and as a collective whole.
The therapeutic value of fly fishing is something readers of this magazine are well aware of. Fly Fisherman first wrote about Project Healing Waters in 2005 when U.S. casualties from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were at all-time highs. Since then we’ve also written about other groups such as Warriors and Quiet Waters Foundation, Discover Courage, Casting for Recovery, Reeling in Serenity (this issue, page 12), Reel Recovery, The Mayfly Project, and many other nonprofit organizations using fly fishing as a remedy for psychological and physical ailments. To the thousands who have participated in these programs, fly fishing has provided solace and healing, friendships and peace. It has real value.
In Mending the Line, director Joshua Caldwell and writer Stephen Camelio tackle this extremely sensitive subject matter with authenticity and grace. The story they tell isn’t about specific people or events, but it’s a compilation of real events and experiences gathered by Stephen Camelio, whose own father served in Vietnam, was exposed to Agent Orange, and passed away in 2013 after a long battle with cancer.
It represents the reality of thousands of people who have suffered in their lives, and found that fly fishing gave them something to live for—a chance to heal and move forward. As Ike says to Colter in the film, “In the book of every soldier’s life, the military is a chapter. That’s it. Some people think it’s the whole book. No, it’s part of you. It never . . . never leaves you. But, it’s not . . . not the whole story.”