Army Vets Become Fishermen For Therapy

Apr 24, 2014

Rudy Watt, left and in foreground above, and Neal Stark enjoy a fishing trip in Sawgrass Park, fishing for large-mouth bass on Tuesday, April 9. Rudy caught the first fish. He is a veteran with PTSD, and the fishing trips are part of his recreational therapy. He goes on fishing and scuba-diving trips with other veterans but has formed one of his closest bonds with Stark, a hairdresser and competitive angler.
Credit Walter Michot / Miami Herald

The trip begins with a high-speed ride on a black flats boat, deep into the wilderness of Sawgrass Recreational Park in Weston. The captain picks a spot, anchors and then digs into one of the boat’s many hidden compartments to select the bait, settling on two “wacky worms.”

The two fishermen set up the fishing rods, crack a few jokes and talk about strategy — “When you feel him tug that line a couple times, point your rod right at him and hit him, hit him good.” They begin casting, looking for bass and anything else that might bite.

The trip is one of many that Neal Stark, 52, takes with military veterans out on the water, allowing nature to serve as a form of recreational therapy for those returning home from war.

Read the full story at, and hear the therapeutic fishing experience below:

Neal Stark and Rudy Watt, right, enjoy a fishing trip in Sawgrass Park fishing for large mouth Bass, Tuesday, April 9, 2014.
Credit Walter Michot / Miami Herald