The Washington State Council (WSC) celebrated our 13th Annual Fly Fishing Fair in Ellensburg last month, a great tradition started by Carl Johnson. The fair is the key fundraising event that this year has allowed us to provide $5,717.52 to other nonprofits. During the year we made donations to Casting for Recovery, Coastal Cutthroat Coalition, Olympic Peninsula Fishing Innovations, University of Washington Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, Inland Empire Fly Fishing Club for the Rocky Ford sign project and the Northwest Youth Conservation and Fly Fishing Academy.  This sum was a combination of direct donations and auctioning off items at the fair where we supplied the dinner event and the auctioneer. We should all be very proud of those significant contributions.

It is impossible to underestimate the importance of the volunteers at the Fair.  Thank you everyone!!  A special thanks to Carl and Maura who provided invaluable support, knowledge and hard work.  There were demonstration tiers, casting instructors, seminar presenters, people and organizations that donated items for the auctions, Peter Maunsel and his group that sorted and displayed mounds of donated items for raffles and both live and silent auctions.  Larry Gibbs has been generating funds throughout the year with rod and reel raffles.  There were people who kept track of the camping fees, set up tables, moved chairs, put out power lines, and swept up about a billion pounds of feathers after the hall was cleared out.  It’s impossible to thank everyone individually in a short article.  But wow, what a lot of support.

Unfortunately, like many other FFI Councils, we have been seeing a decrease in fair attendance. The attendance decreased in spite of a vigorous Social Media campaign by Steve Jones and Sam Matalone and a stellar Celebrity Fly Fisher in Gary Borger. Lower attendance also means, unfortunately, that the Council generated significantly less for itself at the event.

The council wants to turn that trend around. Almost 70% of our FFI members are in the I-5 Corridor, so we plan to move the fair to west of the Cascades to be closer to our membership.  A change in venue has a litany of consequences upon our processes for staging the fair, not the least of which is getting on the schedule of the new venue.  As a volunteer organization, we just don’t have the bandwidth to vet a new facility and prepare for a fair in that facility in 2020. Changing the venue will allow us to rethink every aspect of the fair to be more in line with our members’ needs.  We are open to any venue that can provide the facilities we require at a price we can afford. A facility with sufficient indoor space to allow indoor casting would allow us to hold the Fair in the winter when going fishing is less likely to be in competition with the event.  We are formulating plans to elicit your input about how we can change the fair to better meet your needs.  

In the interim, we are planning to have a Fund Raising Banquet in 2020 so our members can help us prepare for the move, stay tuned.  We hope to see many of you at the Banquet and future fairs as the Council strives to meet the needs of our members.  


The red dots on the map above show where Washington Council members live.

Each dot represents approximately 10 members.

Members in communities with fewer than 10 are consolidated into one group with a dot in the largest nearby community.


Bill Wheeler
Fly Fishers International
President, Washington State Council
Master Certified Casting Instructor
Casting Board of Governors