This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

June 28th, 2004

Guilt - The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Every once in a while a comment or phrase will strike me just right, and I hang onto it. The one above is one of the better ones I've come across. Why? Because it's true!

We've had several instances where a person or company became a Sponsor here on Fly Anglers OnLine (FAOL) because their name came up often on the Bulletin Board; good products being recommended by our readers. We encourage our readers to share the good stuff with each other as well as good fly shops. In fact there was a string a while ago on the Bulletin Board where a person didn't put the name of a fly shop because he thought it probably wasn't acceptable because they weren't a Sponsor here. I posted and said please give the name. It is just the right thing to do.

We receive articles from everywhere - sometimes with a comment that the writer has been "lurking" or reading FAOL for a long time and thought it was time to give something back. I'm sure many of the folks who become Friends of FAOL join in because they want to support this website, but a little guilt probably figures into the equation too. (Nice to have the pin and bumper sticker too.)

Just so you know, we really do want your articles, personal experience, flies which work for you - all are so much better than anything we can do from books or other websites. We appreciate being able to use print materials, or flies from websites which have great tutorials but we are just like you in that we'd rather read something by a 'real' person who reads FAOL than by just another writer.

So if you've been sitting on an idea, an experience or successful fly for your region - here is a serving of guilt just for you! Share the knowledge.

There are a lot of ways to give back to the sport we all love - FAOL in fact is the way my husband, JC, and I try and give back for the many years of learning, enjoyment, frustration and pure joy we have had from fly fishing!

There are of course many other ways. You can teach someone to cast, or tie flies. Get involved with a local stream restoration project, join a fly fishing group. (You may not agree with everything they do, but you can find a group which mostly fits your values.) No fly fishing group/club in your area? Start one. JC and I founded the first FFF chapter in Saginaw, Michigan, the Freestone Fly Fishers - about 1971.

Sometime remind me to tell the story about trying to get a Trout Unlimited chapter started in Livingstone, Montana in the mid 70s.

If you have access to a middle or high school, you might offer to do a fly tying demonstration - or a basic fly fishing class. The Boy Scouts are always looking for folks to help with the new Fly Fishing Badge. I haven't heard anything about the Girl Scouts taking on fly fishing, but since I was a Brownie, Girl Scout and Senior Scout leader, I surely don't see any reason why the girls shouldn't be doing a fly fishing badge as well.

Rivers, streams and beaches all need clean ups. See if there is such a project locally - get involved!

But wait - there's more! (Don't you love that on the TV commercials?) How about taking someone from the Senior Center fishing? Maybe someone who isn't driving any more? It doesn't have to be fly fishing. Such an outing would really pick up someone's spirits. A phone call to a senior facility would get you the information you need to pursue that one.

Another really worthwhile project is Trout in the Classroom (also Salmon in the Classroom out here in the Pacific Northwest.) Most states have a fishery department which is thrilled to get fry or eggs into schools where the kids actually have hands-on experience learning the development cycle. If you've never seen the kids releasing their 'finny friends' to the river or ocean you have missed something really precious.

I realize everyone is not a 'joiner' if they were TU and FFF would be busting at the seams with members, but fly fishers I believe are some of the finest folks ever. And since they are, they know instinctively they also have responsibilities to not just preserve our sport - but to protect it and to pass it on. To be stewarts. That is your responsibility.

This weeks Readers Cast is an article about politics - yes, really. I encourage you to read that one too - we do have an election coming up this fall and you need to be informed. Don't miss that one.

Some folks spend a good chunk of their lives not fishing, so the rest of us can have a fishery to enjoy. One who comes to mind is Peter Van Gytenbeek. Pete (or Van) was the first paid Executive Director of TU back in 1958, went on to be a president of FFF and later publisher of Fly Fishing in Saltwater, has just taken on a new job. Pete is now the Executive Director of FFF and will oversee the restructuring of FFF so it can become a larger and more effective proponent of our sport as well as conserving it. Pete is an old friend - and a very capable man. He and his wife, Liz, are in the process of house hunting in the Livingston region - if you live in the area you might stop by the FFF Center in Livingston (where the offices are going to be) and offer to lend a hand.

Our congratulations and very best hopes for recreating the FFF organization to one which provides a real 'home' for its membership. ~ 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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