There is something remarkable you experience by being outside in harsh weather. I’m not talking about standing behind a window and watching, but being out in the weather. That happened to me recently on a day fishing. It was interesting, even enjoyable. The author Ken Kesey once described spring storms in the Northwest like a bunch of bikers that roll into town, make lots of noise and confusion, then roll out. Fishing in a river canyon recently those bikers rolled in on me. It became progressively darker as I reeled in and waded to shore. The shelter was distant. The storm wasn’t.
Hood up, rod down I trudged as first sprinkles then buckets fell. Movies go to great lengths to depict the power of storms and the risk people face from them. Hats fly, coats flap, actors stumble and scurry. As fishers we have all learned to look ahead and do everything we can to avoid that fate. We invest in expensive boots and garments to endure bad weather when we can’t avoid it. But there is nothing that can match being out in a storm in the proper gear. It’s a human triumph. Watching a sheet of rain fall just beyond the brim of my hat was remarkable. My coat and hood worked well and my shoulders stayed dry. Waders of course helped. I made it to level footing and with every step I watched the downpour turn to a curtain of grey as it rose over the rim rock. Then it was over.
As I tipped back my hood and shook out the soggy brim of my hat the similarity to the recent pandemic came to mind. With preparation and forethought we endured. Washington FFI has tried to do the same. Without an Expo to raise funds in May of 2021, we shifted to an online donation effort with other nonprofits in partnership with GiveBig Washington. It worked well. For two years running in May we’ve been able to raise funds to cover our annual operating cost of about $4,500. Twenty-eight donors contributed this year, ten more than a year ago. Special thanks goes to our worthy board of directors that raised a matching fund both years that meant every donor dollar was matched on the way to our fundraising goal. That board will get a refresh in the coming month when we will vote on new directors for three open seats on the board. Nominees are Jim Goedhart of the Washington Fly Fishing Club, Claude Kistler of the Spokane Fly Fishing Club and Judy Larson of the Overlake Fly Fishing Club. Profiles of the candidates appear elsewhere in this newsletter.
Like about every organization and most of the 17 affiliated FFI clubs in the council, our board stuck together through Zoom meetings. We kept up a steady engagement on conservation efforts on the Grande Ronde and other rivers. We lent our collective voices to partners at Trout Unlimited and we have successfully halted development of the Pebble Rock mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed. And we’ve kept up our contributions to long-time partners at Project Healing Waters and Casting for Recovery that perform valuable outreach to wounded veterans and women recovering from cancer.
Next on the to-do list is the August 13 Casting Fair at Lake Ballinger Park in north Seattle. It’s a one-day event focused on reintroducing our members and the public to the FFI program of casting, fly tying and outreach. Washington FFI has nine affiliated clubs in Puget Sound and we want to welcome them back to FFI and the outdoor adventure we’ve shared in the past. Our goal is to take similar one-day events to other parts of the state.
The bigger challenge is planning resumption of the Expo in 2023. We need your help. In coming weeks, other FFI directors and I will be reaching out to every club in the council for ideas on the time and location for the event. Everyone is welcome to share their ideas. Write to me at email@example.com. For 13 years straight, the Expo was a three-day event held in Ellensburg. As we look to resume the Expo we want to make sure we’re creating an event that interests current members. Picking the time and place for a new Expo is the first step in the process.