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Posts Tagged ‘Missouri River Fly Fishers’

In the past 24 hours, I have had five people make reference to my great lifestyle.  While I could create an entire post listing the trade offs, that would be no fun.  I am a happy guy most of the time and thankful for all the wonderful experiences and fish I have seen in Alaska and other wild and fishy places.  On Tuesday, I was actually fishing Montana in 50 degree weather and exercising a bunch of trout and maybe gloating a bit.  But right now, its 3 degrees and its been snowing since Wednesday.  My buddy captain Eric Lund is using his new smart phone like a voodoo doll and poking me with pictures from Islamorada where he says its a bit chilly at 79 degrees.  Then we have these guys…frankly Frank (and Felt Soul guys), I am envious.  (I have also encountered Big Foot and have a story for another time.)

On another track, I read an interesting opinion post yesterday from Fly Fish Ohio called the Extinction Event.  Joe writes about The Fly Fishing Industry’s Headlong Rush Into Irrelevance And How It Might Be Able To Save Itself… The fly fishing industry is missing the mark for generating more participation. The number of fly fishing anglers is spiraling down.  The number of fly fishing days per capita spent on the water has increased dramatically and the amount of money spent on high end goods by a shrinking number of dedicated and financially solvent people is keeping us going for now, but for how long?  The future of our sport is about to nose dive, unless we can make some changes.

Despite what we say about fly fishing not being an elitist sport, videos showing anglers flying around in helicopters and casting $1000+ fly rods are just not helping our cause.  Sorry Felt Soul guys…we still want to be you, it’s just that most kids will never grow up to do what you are doing.  The problem we need to face is getting young people off the couch by showing them opportunities at home.  There are many good fly fishable waters and species to chase throughout our country that don’t require a helicopter, only a little knowledge and an inexpensive fly rod.  So here is my thought.  Beyond the industry offering lower priced tackle, fly fishermen need to begin recycling.  How many first generation fly rods are out there gathering dust?  Will you ever actually fish that 5wt DS now that you have an XP, ZAxis and TCX?  Even if the answer is yes, how valuable would it be to pass it on to a young angler who just needs some spark and some tackle to begin the lifelong quest we are all passionate about; to become someone who will grow up to support the industry and care about preserving his local waters.

A couple years ago, I pulled a modest fly rod from the Kenai River.  While there was nothing wrong with it, I had no need for such a rod.  Several days later, I had a father and son on a guided trip who wanted to try fly fishing.  They loved it, but the father said that after the cost of the trip, he could not see spending $500 bucks to get his son started fly fishing at home.  After fishing, we drove back to my cabin and I presented him with the rod and dug out an old reel and fly line to make it work. He has since landed many fish on that outfit in Florida and his dad is bringing him back to Alaska for their third trip this summer.

This spring, with some help from our fly fishing club (MRF) I am planning a free fly casting class for kids from the Great Falls schools.  We will pull in as many donation rods as we can get and send as many kids home with a rod and a dream as we can.  Its grass roots time people.  We need to save our sport.

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“Imagine a world where all the kids wanted to grow up to be fishing heroes.” Despite what we often see on popular waters today, fishing license sales are declining.  This is scary when one considers that we as anglers are one of the last lines of defense for the wildlands and rivers we cherish.  I would like to challenge all anglers to introduce a youngster to the sport.  As a guide, I have been fortunate to take families fishing and pass the angling bug on to the next generation.  It’s very special when I get the chance to take a three generation trip and I don’t take the situation lightly.  Inevitably, the trip is first and foremost, focused on the grandson/son and one fish can make three faces light up.  How special is that?

My first fishing hero was Jake Moelk on Boulder Lake in Northern Wisconsin.  He had an arsenal of the coolest steel rods and Pflueger reels spooled with black Dacron musky line.  He was on the water during the glory days of Wisconsin musky fishing and he took me out several times (at the request of my dad I’m sure).  Also living nearby was Joe Bucher.  I used to bike past his house on the way to Northern Highlands Sport Shop.  His boat was seldom home.  At the shop, Jim Ashland entertained a young boy who handled every rod and lure in the store on an almost daily basis during the summers.  I went on my first and only guided trip for many years with musky guide Dick Gries, a buddy of Joe’s.  These men had a profound impact on my life and future.

Tonight, our fly fishing club in Great Falls, MT is getting a presentation from some students involved in the North Middle School Fishing Cub.  How awesome is that?  Here is a link to an article in our newsletter by Pat Volkmar.  Check it out.

Fishing Heroes“You heroes out there know who you are.  We whom you taught to fish, want to say a great big Thank You!

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