Supporting Cancer Survivors through Fishing

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Supporting Cancer Survivors through Fishing

Most everyone knows someone whose life has been impacted by the word “cancer”, whether it be the individual or the individual’s family. Cancer treatments can take a toll both physically and mentally, and survivors often deal with long-term effects. One way to help cancer patients and survivors is to provide opportunities for them to connect with nature. Reel Recovery is doing just this, through their fly fishing retreats.

Reel Recovery is based in Denver, Colorado and Needham, Massachusetts. It hosts free fly fishing retreats for men with cancer. This year, Reel Recovery is hosting 28 retreats, including 2 in New Zealand, 1 in Australia, and 1 in British Columbia. Locally, they partner with many fly fishing organizations such as Trout Unlimited, Derby City Fly Fishers, Northern Kentucky Fly Fishers, Indianapolis Fly Casters, Ohio Valley Fly Rod Club, etc. along with regional cancer support clinics, hospital cancer centers, and Gilda’s Clubs throughout the region. The current retreat staff consists of a psychosocial facilitator, retreat coordinator, and oncology nurse. The facilitator engages the participants in “Courageous Conversations” to get men to open up in conversation with other men “who have been there” with their cancers.  This results in a truly life changing experience.

On May 19th and 20th the Kentucky Reel Recovery Retreat served seven male cancer survivors. Of the seven, 4 were from Kentucky, one from Indiana, one from Illinois, and one from Tennessee.  This was the 17th annual retreat for Reel Recovery in Kentucky. Locally, a total about 185 men have been served and internationally the program is approaching 4,000 men served since 2003.

At the retreat, volunteer fly fishing instructors (“Fishing Buddies”), come (at their own expense) to teach fly fishing techniques one-on-one at the water with the retreat participants. Buddies are from fly fishing clubs in Kentucky, Indiana, and Georgia. The participants fished the waters at Hatchery Creek, located at Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery. The weather was beautiful, and the fishing was great. Carlos, one of the participants in the retreat, caught his first trout, and it was a beauty.

Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery is honored to have these cancer patients and survivors spend the day fishing at Hatchery Creek. More information can be found at

Catch at Reel Recovery Retreat
Reel Recovery Retreat

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