Veteran's Fishing Program
Join a Veteran Community of Anglers
We’re taking you fishing—no matter your physical ability, financial status, or fishing experience
Our goal is to reduce challenges for veterans by providing a strong, supportive network of veterans focused on the restorative angling experiences in the Pacific Northwest. We partner with The Fallen Outdoors, a nonprofit whose mission is to “organize outdoor adventures for veterans past and present, from every generation and from all branches of the military.”
Each year, our chapters host hundreds of service members from Oregon and Washington at fishing events dedicated to supporting and connecting veterans on the water. We host weekend retreats and day trips where the only expense to the veterans is the cost of a fishing license and transportation to the event. We provide housing, food, boating opportunities, and equipment paid for by donations and organized entirely by volunteers.
“The transition for a service member to return to civilian life can be extremely difficult. Veterans experience an extreme sense of loss of belonging, community, and brotherhood. A life spent in extreme conditions, whether in combat or non-combat service, is filled with perils,” said Combat Veteran and Northwest Steelheaders Board Member Tim Lenihan. “Service members learn to rely upon those around them for support, understanding, guidance, and survival. Experiencing a loss of that support network is detrimental and a leading cause of suicide, high rates of divorce, disease, job loss, and homelessness for veterans.”
We are currently working to expand our Veteran’s Fishing Program in order to connect more service members. If you are interested in contributing to this program, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Messages From Our Veterans and Volunteers
Bill Hutchison, Veteran
"I attended my first ever fishing event with the Association of Northwest Steelheaders through TFO a couple of years ago. I am a 100% disabled veteran and suffer from PTSD. This makes socializing very difficult for me. But it has always been a dream of mine to catch a big Chinook salmon. I was very nervous because I didn't know anyone there, but it didn't take long for the feeling of camaraderie to come back to me and put me at ease. And my boat captain did not disappoint. I hooked into a monster (probably close to 40 pounds). Got it right up to the rail, then lost it. But that fish was not the only one hooked that day, I was too. Being on the water, away from the world, is where I could finally get some peace. I did end up with a prize for the smallest fish, and that was the happiest I had been in a long time. Since then I have been on several trips, including sturgeon fishing with Keith Hyde. I have met some amazing people along the way. Anyone can just go fishing alone, but going with a group of people that truly caree about each other and what they're doing is what makes this so special."
Victor Leatzow, Volunteer
"As an active 1st responder and ex-Army, though I don't consider myself a Veteran as I never served in a conflict, I wanted to give back. After taking TFO Vets out of Cathlamet and Hood River on Sturgeon trips, seeing the positivity, camaraderie, the weight lifted, and gleam in their eye, I knew it wasn't all about "catching the fish." It was the experience, the freedom for those few hours that I could assist with. Since, I have become more entrenched in events, creating new friendships, being humbled and honored to take a WW2 Vet out with his grandson creating personal lasting memories. Interestingly enough, TFO allows me an avenue to decompress from the stressors involved with daily 1st responder situations. TFO is more than a non-profit organization, it is a lifeline for all involved."
Herbert Bilodeau, Veteran
"I have attended both TFO and Columbia river events. Frankly, without these types of events, my depression would be worse. I have made friends and actually got out of the house. I am a disabled Marine and just being able to enjoy the outdoors again. I would love to use more events like duck and deer hunting but again I can't walk like I used to. The people who donate their time are so special. THANK YOU FOR BEING THERE FOR US."