Winner of the OzFish/Fly Program Competition, David Magner, shares his experience of a once in a lifetime journey into the NSW Snowy Mountains.
“There was this one moment where I witnessed pure joy on the face of a bloke that I reckon isn’t used to showing too much emotion.”
“I’d given him one of my flies to use and I watched on as he cast to the top of dam and that’s when he hooked up. The look on his face was priceless…..the thrill and excitement for him to simply have a fish on was so rewarding to see.”
After being selected as our Aussie bloke who could do with some time out to reconnect, reflect and rejuvenate – passionate fisho David Magner from Bundaberg in QLD has returned home with many memories, friendships and a greater sense of appreciation for what he has in life.
But it’s a self-imposed commitment that he regards as the program’s biggest gift.
“This journey has made me stop and think. To take stock of how l lucky I am to have an amazing wife and good people around me to turn to when I need them.
“I have no doubt that The Fly Program is saving lives.”
“I’ve experienced so much in a short amount of time, with a group of men I’d never met but we all had something common, a desire to take better care of ourselves and our mental fitness.
“So I am determined to live in the moment.”
David was one of The Fly Program’s participants on its most recent 4-day adventure retreat into the NSW Snowy Mountains where the men fish, mountain bike ride and camp their way around epic alpine wilderness locations – a setting that invites journeys of self-discovery by providing a powerful setting in the natural environment to talk, connect and support each other.
The award-winning program’s four ideals; Explore, Cast, Discover and Recover, has already helped countless men who have been touched directly or indirectly by mental illness, PTSD or suicide.
David admits he has felt the devastating impact of suicide first-hand after losing a male work colleague earlier this year and has also struggled at times as a high school teacher; a role that not only demands long hours but requires him to be a guide, mentor and support person to students and their families.
“I had to make the decision this year to take the pressure off so I have shifted into a similar role, but one that will give me more time to find balance between work and life.
“Sadly, there are so many Australian men who are struggling with depression and anxiety, or maybe it’s a divorce or being alienated from their kids and it’s the ones you least expect to harm themselves that we should be worried about.
“I reckon at least 50 percent of Aussie males feel as though there is no one to talk to.”
According to SANE Australia, suicide remains the leading cause of death in Australian men aged 15 to 44, with six Aussie men dying on average every day.
Last year, the number of deaths from intentional self-harm was 3128 with 75 percent of those lives lost (2349) being men.
OzFish Unlimited’s Founder and CEO Craig Copeland described the statistics as distressing and said The Fly Program’s efforts to reduce the stigma attached to mental health will make a difference to many Australian men.
“Our organisation has forged many partnerships but the support for The Fly Program is incredibly important because it’s saving lives.
“We want more Australian men to the feel the wonder of the natural environment and to realise that something as simple as throwing a line in can bring happiness and create an improved sense of well-being.”
David recounted the feeling of getting in touch with his “man skills” when the group were asked to make a fire in the rain.
“The weather was certainly not on our side but that made the trip in many ways because we all needed find our inner hunter and gatherer to set up camp, move around and even fish in the rain and hail.
“Standing in the rain fishing, isn’t something I would normally do!”
While David was a more experienced angler than others in the group, he said fly fishing forced him to re-think his whole strategy.
“Any mate can tie a woolly bugger on and throw a line in, but you have to have faith to place an impossibly tiny fly in front of a trout and think it’s going to work.
“It was like Fly Fishing University, starting over and investing time and patience in catching just one fish, but I did it with a very slow figure 8 head retrieve and going down to a four-pound tippet and extending it, down from an eight.”
David said of the many moments he enjoyed learning and sharing, one of the most impressionable characters was that of Matt Tripet, founder of The Fly Program.
“He was simply an amazing individual and born leader who genuinely wants to do good in our community.”
“Actually, if he wasn’t a “Rah Rah” (rugby union) fan, he’d be a really good bloke!”
To find out more or to sponsor someone you love to join The Fly Program head to flyprogram.org.au or for more information email firstname.lastname@example.org