Last weekend, I was honored to participate in a Casting for Recovery retreat at Black Butte Ranch as a River Helper.

Black Butte Pond
Black Butte Pond |

The goal of Casting for Recovery (CFR) is “to enhance the quality of life of women with breast cancer through a unique program that combines breast cancer education and peer support with the therapeutic sport of fly fishing.”

Participants are pampered for a few days. Casting for Recovery hopes women find:

  • inspiration from other participants
  • find renewed energy for life
  • experience healing connections with other women and nature

And it just so happens October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

CFR Pin |

 And then there’s the fly fishing…

Fourteen women learned to tie knots…cast…tie a few flies…and identify bugs.

While I didn’t teach any of these classes, I was the kick net “chief operator” in the river and brought a few live aquatic insects – stoneflies nymphs, mayflies nymphs, and caddis larva – for my wife Karen to use in her bug class. I understand they had a fabulous time watching these bugs swim and walk in the plastic containers. 

And speaking of my wife, she’s kicked cancer in the butt! I’m proud of her for her strength and determination.

She decided not to let cancer define her. She doesn’t dwell on it anymore. She lives life to it’s fullest everyday. In fact, we both do.

And she shows that on the river. She is a great fisherman…I mean fishergirl!

She wears pink a lot on the river. And she fishes with a pink Ross Reel.

Ross Reel - Reel in a Cure |

If you fish the Metolius River, you may have seen this pink reel. Fly fishermen who fish on the Met see “that girl” using a pink reel, but don’t think much about it…until they see her cast and catch BIG fish!

Pink Hat Rainbow |

But back to CFR.

These ladies had a great day fly fishing. They used skills learned in the previous couple of days and tried to catch a fish. They tied their own flies on the leader. And they cast…and cast…and cast…full of anticipation a fish would eat their fly.

We saw a few swimming around, but no takers that day. In spite of no fish, I hope I was able to teach a little ZEN fly fishing to my fly fisher.

And perhaps a few others found their own ZEN. There was pure JOY on their faces.

CFR Retreat |

I know a few will fish again… 

CFR Rod |

I am in awe of their courage and happy to share my love of fly fishing with them. I hope I’m able to pay it forward in some small way to help in their healing. I hope they find their own ZEN.

So I’ll leave you with a Carrie Steven’s fly I tied last year. It’s called a Pink Beauty.

Carrie Stevens - Pink Beauty |

Similar Posts


  1. I was one of the 14 women, and lucky enough to be John’s “pond pal”. It was an absolutely amazing experience, and I can’t say enough good things about what an awesome organization CFR is. I am deeply grateful to all the volunteers and donors who made last weekend’s retreat possible. Hope to see you again…on the river!

  2. Hi John,

    It was nice to see your post about the CfR retreat at Black Butte Ranch last weekend. Thanks for sharing your experience! I work for the CfR National Office and support the two Oregon programs. With your permission, I would like to use your photo of Black Butte Pond on the top of the North Oregon CfR webpage: I would be happy to credit your name or Riverkeeper Flies. It’s a beautiful photo!
    Thank you again for supporting Casting for Recovery!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.