It takes a plan to pull off a fishing trip with friends.

First you’ve got to consider whether to go to familiar water or someplace new. Would you like a guide? Do you need a guide? Who’s driving and when?  Cabin or camp? If you’re renting a cabin, do you cook or eat out? And once you decide, there is the next question of who cooks which nights? It gets even more complicated when you bring boats and even more complicated when you’ve got to organize river shuttles. It’s a crazy amount of detail, yet all of us figure it out several times a year. A 2019 study by an industry group called the Recreational Boating and Fishing Association found that there are about 7 million fly fishers in the U.S. that each go on about 11 outings each year.

That’s a lot of planning.

So, it stands to reason that since September the directors of the Washington Council of FFI have been at work on a plan themselves. Of course we fish, but this plan is about going after a different trophy: you.
Directors of Washington FFI joined this board because they believe there is value in an organization of fly fishers dedicated to education, conservation and community. The question for us has always been how to deliver on that mission. It’s not as easy as it sounds; first of all Washington is a big state. Since September, directors have held monthly Zoom meetings when we’ve puzzled through these questions and we’re ready to share our plan. Over the next three years we want to make this organization more engaging for you, more useful in your fishing and more meaningful in its conservation and advocacy efforts. We want to make you happy you joined and proud to tell a friend they might want to think about joining too. We want to make FFI matter, for you.

Here goes.

In the next three years FFI will host at least three casting and tying events each year.

Next year, we will start at the Fly Fishing Show Feb. 17-18 at Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue where Washington FFI will have a booth and host the FFI Learning Center there to teach fly tying, knots and other basic skills. Also on Feb. 17, FFI will host a reception at 4:30 after the show and before the beginning of the Fly Fishing Film Tour at 6 p.m. Watch the FFI Website, Instagram and Facebook for a package deal that will offer you admission to the show and our reception Feb. 17. Stop by the reception to grab a snack and a beer and catch up with friends. There will be a presentation on an important campaign to designate several new Wild & Scenic Rivers on the Olympic Peninsula and drawings at the end for a new Thomas & Thomas 5wt. fly rod and other gifts. Watch your email and our Instagram and Facebook for ticket details.

On May 4, the FFI Fly Casting Fair will return to Ballinger Park in the Mountlake Terrace neighborhood of Seattle. This year’s fair will offer an expanded focus on the new FFI Skills Development Course along with classes with the distinguished roster of FFI Certified Casting Instructors and Master Certified Instructors in our state. Then in September 2024, we will take the Casting Fair on the road to Vancouver, where we will hold our first event in that part of the state. Look for details on the date and location in our spring newsletter.

Next year, we also want to introduce as many FFI members and clubs as possible to the Casting Skills Development Course. FFI is putting on a push nationwide to help members improve their cast and lead more toward seeking Certified Instructor status. The first step in the effort is to show members what the Skills Development Course is all about. FFI Director and CI Marion Hiller and Master Casting Instructor Molly Seminik are offering Skills Development now in the Bellingham area. In spring, FFI Director and CI Jim Black and Washington Director and Casting Coordinator Neal Hoffberg are going to be offering the same program in the South Puget Sound area. We’re taking the Skills Development Course to your neighborhoods.

Beyond events in 2024 we want to rekindle links with our Eastern Washington clubs with an eye toward holding an FFI event in Spokane in 2025. In 2025 we also want to create an event focused on fly tying and resume holding an annual membership meeting to conclude the directors election and present awards to members who make noteworthy contributions to our sport.
Then looking out to 2026, we want to hold a multi-day event similar to the Washington FFI Expo held for more than a decade in Ellensburg, Wash. Covid put the brakes on the Expo and we are looking ahead to 2026 to bring back another event that draws from every corner of the state.

That’s the rough outline of the plan. FFI directors hope you will become as engaged with the mission as we are. If you’ve got thoughts on the goals, please write to me at president@wscffi.org. Thanks.

In closing, I want to welcome the newest members of Washington FFI at the 4th Corner Fly Fishers of Bellingham. The club voted in November to become affiliated with Fly Fishers International. Thanks to Frank Koterba, club Treasurer, who invested the time in learning about FFI and the benefits we offer affiliated clubs. And thanks to all the members of 4th Corner who gave us the thumbs up.

If you have ideas, please email me at president@wscffi.org. I welcome suggestions.

President Steve Jones