This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

April 18th, 2005

Paying Forward

The practice of fly fishing tends to be a solitary endeavor, where our thoughts of any 'outside' influences hopefully disappear in the flow of the stream. Job, boss, gas prices, family problems pretty much are flushed out while we concentrate on the fish, the flies, getting a nice drift once we've figured out where the fish might be. Truly an incredible gift.

Gift? From who? Where?

Very few fly fishers are totally self-taught, nor is the fly fishing knowledge magically bestowed in the automatic systems of our bodies. The information came from somewhere. It may have been a friend or family member, fly fishing club, classes, magazines, books, videos - lots of sources.

Fly Anglers OnLine (FAOL) is proud to be one of those sources - and delighted to be able to share the information and pass it on. We hope to encourage you to pass on your knowledge as well.

On the Bulletin Board, under Fly Tying and Fly Swaps, you will find a post by Steven H. McGarthwaite (Parnelli) about the results of his Beginner's Fly Swaps. Take the time to read it, Steven has mentored a couple of hundred FAOL readers from non-tier to some he says are beyond intermediate. He founded the Beginner's Swap, helped out when folks didn't have the right materials by suppling the stuff they needed and answered a zillion questions on "how to." A wonderful, encouraging way he has found to 'pay forward.' Steven learned a great deal of what he knows from FAOL - and encourages his 'students' to pass it on.

He isn't the only FAOL reader who is involved in paying forward. We have folks who help out with the Boy Scout Fly Fishing Badge programs; Kathy Scott a teacher in Maine, who has started middle and high school fly fishing programs, others who are casting instructors who teach without charge, some who have started fly fishing groups and clubs - all part of paying forward.

We had news this past week of another FAOL reader, John Colburn who is heading an effort to teach fly tying to wounded soldiers at the Bethesda Military Hospital. (John lives in Washington, DC.) With a little help from some of the FAOL Sponsors, (Mustad, Hook & Hackle and BT's Fly Fishing Products) John will be able to teach 8 - 10 of the wounded in each class session - and he is working on a way to get them all fishing locally as well. He is also trying to get the FFF to pick this up as a permanent project.

In this issue of the Mid-Atlantic Flyfisher, the quarterly journal of the Federation of Fly Fishers' Mid-Atlantic Council, is an article on the two programs their council selected to be forwarded to the FFF for adoption as major FFF programs. Quoting John Colburn, "The first is Project Access, which is a program for clubs to construct paths and sites so disabled persons can get to reasonably good fishing sites in wheelchairs, on crutches, or with other infirmities which make walking over moderately rough terrain difficult if not impossible. Anyone with such a disability knows that his or her fishing might be limited to watching the "hook'em, yank' em, toss'em' programs on ESPN2."

Project Access was started some years ago by Joan Stoliar and the Theodore Gordon Fly Fishers, and fell to the wayside with Joans death. John hopes to bring it back with full FFF support.

"The second program, the I PASS (I Pledge to Avoid Spawning Sites) Pledge, is an educational program with conservation elements. It encourages anglers to not fish to spawning fish and to avoid wading through redds. Both practices are detrimental to the future of our fisheries."

A tip of the FAOL hat to the Mid-Atlantic Council Board of Directors for recommending these programs to the National FFF. Pay it forward? Big time!

Our email here at FAOL has been very active too. We have received and granted requests for permission to translate Al Campbell's instructional series on Fly Tying to Russian for a club website in Kazakhstan, from an Italian website, requesting the same thing, but translated into Italian, and some of Al's individual flies with instruction for a website in Hong Kong. That's quite international - but there is one more. One of our readers, a professional photographer in Columbia translated Al's series into Spanish for his mother who wanted to learn to tie flies. David Marin contacted us and asked if we would like the translations for use here on FAOL!

Our answer was YES! We will start the series, (providing the creek doesn't rise) with this issue; the first two will be online, and we plan on adding one lesson a week - just like it was done originally. We are really pleased to be able to offer this translation to our Spanish language readers, and our sincere thanks to David.

All through the year we receive requests for individual articles, flies or cartoons to be used in club newletters or on their websites, and we do allow that too. This past week we had a request from a school to use the Rod Building series for their students. The series has been printed out and bound for each of the students use. When I requested they put the FAOL url on the books, the teacher told me, "Our students know who FAOL is, we've been assigning a Fly of the Week to be tied for our evening Tying Club!"

Just as we hope to pass the knowledge on - pay it forward - we hope you have the opportunity to help out a friend too. Invite someone to go fishing with you, offer to teach a friend to cast, show someone how to tie flies - write something about your fishing experiences for Readers Casts, send in a Fly of the Week for the many fly tiers to enjoy, or if you have a 'different' method, share that here on FAOL as well.

In our own way, we can each Pay It Forward. ~ DLB

If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!

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