November 26, 2007

Start a Group
By James Castwell


I am reading a book about fly fishing in the eastern United States from the twenties through the eighties. Fascinating reading and I will be doing a report on the book when I have read it all. Every word. Every single word. I am in no hurry to arrive at the final page. (I did finish the book, and the review is up for you to read. Check it out: Split and Glued.)

Why? It is about a man I knew in my early years and the book and its pictures brings back a lot of memories. Nice warm, fuzzy memories. It is about the life of Vince Marinaro. Most of you know who he was but many may not know of the things he was involved with. Not only was he a talented man at law and the violin, an innovative fly tier and cane rod designer and builder, he started a club. A fly fishing club. It became world known. Now I want you to start one too.

Years ago, back when I lived in Michigan I called a new national organization I heard about and asked if it would be alright for me to form a chapter of their group. They said it would be fine if that's what I wanted to do, but it would be the first one in the state. The idea got started much before that phone call though. I mentioned one day at my job that I tied trout flies. One of the fellows asked if I could help him with his tying. I agreed and when he showed up one evening at my house a few days later he had one of his friends with him.

Within a month there were about ten of us who would meet once a week in my basement and we would all tie flies. None of us were any good at it but that was not the point. We all got better because we worked together and pushed each other and learned together. The power of a group can be mighty. I eventually developed a close friendship with another fly fisher and we formed a fly fishing school that taught in Detroit and on the Au Sable river.

As there was not yet a chapter of the organization in the state, The Freestone Fly Fishers was born. The rivers we fished were in fact, freestone and we were fly fishers. The name had three capital F's in it and I thought that was nifty too. Some years later I checked with the FFF and they said they had no record of ever hearing of our club. Oh well, we did exist for a few years and had a nice time and the dedicated members met at least once a month. Usually at my place. When I left for Montana it dissolved.

Not so with the group that Vince formed. Well, as I understand it, he had some help but they were a lot smarter than we were. They would have a member present a 'paper' at each meeting. Real involvement. No dues, no officers, no restricting rules. To be a member all you needed to do was say you wanted to be one. I want you to consider this idea.

I know you have a fishing buddy, maybe if you are lucky, you have several. Start a group, a club, a something. Not all official. Not some prestigious outfit, no ego's no big shots; just fly fishers. At the first meeting ask each guy to offer one solid idea how or what will keep the club going. A project, teaching casting, tying, consider letting a few more know about it.

So it might fall apart in a month. So what. Maybe it won't too. Failure is easy to handle, success takes work. Work at it. Plant fish eggs? Pledge to clean up a certain mile of stream? Hold an annual dinner? Speakers? Take a trip somewhere to fish? Go for it. What ever you decide to do, you will personally benefit from it, you have my word on that.

This is the time of year to form things. For many the fishing is off the calendar for a while and it is time to do indoor stuff. A group is the perfect answer. ~ James Castwell

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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