I’ve been tying a lot of flies lately. I’m preparing for a long delayed steelhead trip to northern British Columbia and Iwant to be equipped. Steelheading is often a crapshoot. You can enjoy multi-fish days and you can also have zero-fish weeks. Either way, the worst thing is to miss an opportunity because you weren’t prepared. Directors of the Washington State Council of FFI feel the same way about our coming year of programs. We are planning to hold a couple of one-day casting fairs in 2022, one each in Western and Eastern Washington. We also want to revive our FlyFishing Expo in some form in the near future. But while planning has begun we’re also aware a pandemic still lurks and there is the chance in-person events could be cancelled again like they were in the past year.
I’ve talked to a few club presidents recently that have shared the same concern. Many were planning to resume in-person monthly club meetings this fall. Now, some aren’t so sure that would be a good idea. Regardless, planning continues because they want to be prepared.
Besides planning, clubs statewide have continued to pursue conservation and education work with remote meetings and social distancing. More than half of the 17 clubs in the Washington State Council are conducting online membership meetings. Most of those also are sustaining online tying groups and tying classes for both experienced and beginning tiers. Launching new conservation efforts has been difficult, but sustaining efforts begun before the pandemic is working. For example, the Inland Empire Fly Fishing Club in Spokane two years ago began a campaign to purchase and preserve the Ebsen Fishing Access on the Grand Ronde. Even though the pandemic hit in the middle of the effort, Inland Empire officers stuck to the job and concluded the purchase and transfer of the 8-acre site to WDFW management last month.
To recognize the commitment of Inland Empire and others, the Washington State Council also is giving its annual awards for outstanding efforts in conservation, education and leadership. Traditionally, those awards have been handed out at our Fly Fishing Expo. But the work goes even if the in-person events do not. Elsewhere in this newsletter we recognize five clubs and/or individuals for their outstanding work on behalf of the Washington State Council of FFI and the sport of fly fishing.
Another thing that the Washington State Council prepared for this year did become a success. That was our 2021 election of officers. Neal Hoffberg of Seattle was elected a director at large and Len Zickler was elected our new Vice President for Eastern Washington. Neal is a member of Seattle’s Washington Fly Fishing Club where he has helped move their fly tying group online and assisted with the club’s extensive outreach to veterans through Project Healing Waters. Len needs no introduction to FFI members. He is the past President and CEO of Fly Fishers International. After holding the national leadership role he took some time off and has now re-engaged by joining our Washington State Council board again. Neal and Len will be good additions to our board and I thank them for serving.
Jim Maus and myself, Steve Jones, were also elected to three-year terms as treasurer and president respectively. Because we were appointed to those roles last year we needed to go through the election process in order to continue.